A MAN who stabbed a friend he was staying with to death in Leigh has been jailed.

Stephen Brocklehurst, 49, of Billinge Road, Wigan, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court Crown Square on Friday to life imprisonment after being found guilty of the murder of 32-year-old Phil Rooney.

He will serve a minimum of 12 years before being considered for early release.

During the course of a three-week trial, the jury heard on Saturday, February 23, Brocklehurst had been drinking and playing snooker in a pub with Mr Rooney before they got into a verbal confrontation.

The pair were heard arguing loudly outside the pub before going their separate ways.

A short time later, the men met again and made their way back to Mr Rooney’s home on Platt Street.

Once inside the property, the argument continued and witnesses confirmed that the confrontation was so loud that it could be heard on the street.

Suddenly the confrontation went quiet and around 10 – 20 minutes later, Brocklehurst ran out of the property shouting for help as Phil lay fatally injured inside the house.

Despite the best efforts of the paramedics who subsequently attended, Phil was pronounced dead at the scene.

Leigh Journal:

Police on Platt Street after the stabbing

Leigh Journal:

A floral tribute left at the scene

A Home Office Post Mortem examination confirmed Mr Rooney died from a stab wound to the chest.

When police arrived at the scene, Brocklehurst attempted to claim that Phil had "gone mad" with the knife and started stabbing himself.

After being arrested on suspicion of murder, he abandoned this account and said that Phil had approached him with a knife before accidentally dropping it, at which point Brocklehurst picked it up to "ward off" his friend.

He stated Mr Rooney then lunged at him, which resulted in him being stabbed accidentally.

This account was clearly in conflict with the fact that Phil had been stabbed multiple times and his injuries showed evidence of defensive wounds.

Leigh Journal:

Phil Rooney

Phil’s family was left devastated by his death and released the following tribute to him following the sentencing: “Phil was taken from us in February in completely unnecessary circumstances.

"We cannot express how devastated we are that his life has been stolen, and for this to have happened at the hands of a man he had helped makes this particularly distressing for our family, particularly his children.

“Phil was caring, compassionate and had a great sense of humour. He was much loved by all who knew him.

“His killer has been sentenced, and justice has been served.

“We would urge anyone considering picking up a knife to stop, take a breath, and think of the lives you will ruin.

"We will try to repair our heartache although no matter how long the sentence is, it will not bring Phil back or make our loss any easier.

“We need to attempt to move on and hopefully the sentencing will now provide closure for our pain over the last eight months, however, we will never forget Phil or the many memories he has given us.”

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Speaking after the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer Bob Tonge, said: “Stephen Brocklehurst has been brought to justice for murdering Phil Rooney, a man who had provided him with a home to stay in after he had fallen on hard times.

“His actions after he fatally stabbed Phil showed that he had no regard for his victim or his family, his only concern was attempting to lie his way out of trouble.

"He didn’t even have the decency to plead guilty, and as a result he forced Mr Rooney’s loved ones to sit through a trial and relive what happened to Phil.

“Thankfully the jury saw through his act and he has now been given a life sentence.

"Although this result will not bring Phil back, I hope it will provide his loved ones with some comfort.”