Man jailed for the murder of Widnes pub landlord Christian Thornton
Main article content
A 35-year-old man who stabbed a landlord to death outside his own pub in Widnes has been sentenced to life in prison.
Lee Abbott was today, Friday 21 February, sentenced to life in prison – he must serve a minimum of 28 years.
Abbott was convicted of the murder of Christian Thornton on Thursday 20 February following an eight-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.
The 49-year-old father-of-three was killed outside his pub the Hammer and Pincers on Liverpool Road on Sunday 11 August.
Abbott had pleaded guilty to manslaughter but the jury chose to convict him of murder.
Christian had banned Abbott from the pub nine days before his death after he was heard bragging about carrying a knife.
Christian also added him to the local Pubwatch list, meaning that he was banned from every licensed premises in Widnes.
Despite the ban, Abbott returned to the Hammer and Pincers at around 3.10pm that day, he was asked to leave by Christian and started to walk away before running back towards him, pulling a knife from a backpack and fatally stabbing him.
Following the conclusion of the case on Thursday 20 February, Christian’s wife Pam issued the following statement: “Today justice has been done and Lee Abbott has been held accountable for murdering Chris.
“On Sunday 11 August Lee Abbott not only took my husband’s life but also destroyed my life and the lives of our three children.
“Since that day, the indescribable pain I have lived with has been multiplied as I watch our children try to come to terms with losing their Dad in such a violent way.
“They do so with dignity and strength that would make their Dad proud.
“I would like to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to ensure justice prevailed today, especially David McLachlan QC, Detective Inspector Kate Tomlinson and their teams.
“I would also like to thank my family, friends and Chris’s family for their support at this truly awful time.
“I ask now that my family are left alone and given the privacy to start to rebuild our lives.”
Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Kate Tomlinson, who led the investigation, said: “Abbott’s actions that day have torn a family apart and rocked the local community.
“Christian was a well-known character locally, he did so much for local charities and will be greatly missed by many.
“Before the incident Abbott had the opportunity to walk away, but instead he made a conscious decision to return and attack Christian, which ultimately resulted in his death.
“This has left three children without their father, and his wife, Pam, has lost a loving husband.
“Their pain has been increased by the fact that they have been made to sit through an eight day trial and relive what happened on that day.
“The courage and dignity that they have shown throughout this investigation and subsequent trial has been immeasurable.
“Nothing will ever bring Christian back, but I just hope that following today’s verdict all those who knew and loved him can now in some way start to move forward and rebuild their lives.
“This has been a very sad and distressing investigation and I would like to highlight the efforts of all those officers who attended on the day and tried so valiantly to save Christian’s life and to thank those who have assisted with the subsequent investigation.
“The professionalism and dedication of all those involved is admirable and shows their commitment to achieving justice for Christian and his family."
Superintendent Laura Marler, who is in charge of local policing in Widnes, said: “I want to praise the bravery and courage of Christian’s family and friends throughout this difficult trial. Our thoughts remain with his loving family who have to live with the consequences of this tragic incident every day.
“I know that the whole community were left shaken by this incident and I hope that Abbott’s conviction will provide reassurance to those who are affected.
“I also want to take this time to recognise the dedication and professionalism of all officers and police staff who have been involved within the investigation. It is down to their hard work that we have brought Abbott to justice.
“We are doing all we can to tackle knife crime by working with our partners and members of the community to educate and prevent people from choosing to carry a knife.
“Our aim is to do all we can to keep people safe against those who are intent on causing harm to others and I hope that the circumstances of Christian’s death will deter others from carrying a weapon.
“Our message is clear, carrying weapons will not be tolerated and anyone found with a knife will be brought to justice.”