Homeless drunk sentenced to life for killing best friend

11:45am Tuesday 3rd April 2012

A HOMELESS man was jailed for life after jurors convicted him of murdering his best friend.

Michael Hanlon said he could not remember stabbing Steve Pass, having drunk a litre of vodka and four pints of beer.

He tried to argue that he had an “abnormality of mind” caused by a previous head injury and alcoholism. But jurors did not accept his explanation, and unanimously found him guilty after considering their verdict for four hours.

Hanlon was told that he must serve at least 13 years before being eligible for parole. He showed no sign of emotion on being led from the dock.

Judge Mr Justice Field told Hanlon: “Mr Pass was your best friend, and you killed him when you were drunk, and killed him when you were in a temper.

“This case is a tragedy for Steven Pass, his parents, and it’s a tragedy for yourself and your family.

“You were also a man of good character for many years and it’s apparent that you are genuinely and profoundly remorseful for the death of your friend.”

His views were echoed by Detective Constable Wayne Brook who investigated the case. “It’s a tragic, tragic case where alcohol played a part in a man killing his best friend,” he said.

Hanlon, 53, had already admitted stabbing Mr Pass, 54, in Lyndhurst in March 2011. It took place at the victim’s flat in Foldsgate Close after they went for drinks at Lyndhurst Working Men’s Club.

Winchester Crown Court had earlier heard that Hanlon was asked to leave the venue for being drunk. The two men rowed and Hanlon stabbed his friend when they returned to the flat.

Both had been sleeping rough in a tent near Hythe, the jury had heard, before Mr Pass found a permanent home.

The court heard that Hanlon, formerly of Studley Avenue in Holbury, lost his confidence and turned to drink after suffering a fractured skull following an attack by a neighbour in 2001. He also parted from his wife of 27 years, Karen, because of his alcoholism.

After the verdict, prosecutors read a victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Pass’s parents, Eric, 81, and Jean, 76. The court heard that their other son died from cancer five years ago, and that Mrs Pass’s health had deteriorated.

The statement said: “Steven wanted to stay in the Hythe area and help with his mother’s care, which has been affected greatly. His father cares for her as best he can, but that obviously places him under great strain.”

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