NOTE TO SUBS: TURNING TO PAGE 5. WITH HEADSHOTS OF SPALDING AND LUCAS
A SOUTH Tyneside killer who hunted down and stabbed a 20-year-old who stole his phone has failed to convince top judges his 25-year minimum jail term is too long.
Jarrow-born Mark Spalding, 46, was caged for life in April last year.
He was convicted of murdering former Hebburn Comprehensive School pupil Andrew Lucas.
who died after he was cornered and stabbed in a stairwell near his flat.
He was ordered to serve at least quarter of a century behind bars before he could even apply for parole.
His case reached London’s Appeal Court as Spalding challenged his 25-year minimum term, claiming it was far too harsh, given the “significant provocation” involved.
But Mrs Justice Thirlwall, sitting with Lady Justice Macur and Judge Paul Batty QC, said the sentence was appropriate for such a brutal knife crime.
Spalding “trapped” Mr Lucas after chasing him up a stairway, in Warkworth Close, Washington, from which there was no escape route, said Mrs Justice Thirlwall, severing a major artery in his thigh by slashing him with a kitchen knife.
His victim suffered a “catastrophic loss of blood”, said the judge, who added that Spalding left him to die and did nothing to summon help.
Mr Lucas’ family had submitted a moving victim impact statement testifying to the “void” in their lives left by his death in November 2012.
His family were also angered by an “apology” given by Spalding, said the judge, which they felt was insincere and “designed to save his own skin rather than being a real expression of remorse or sorrow”.
Spalding’s attack on Mr Lucas followed an earlier incident on November 3 2012 in which his phone was stolen as he returned home from a party.
“He was attacked and robbed of his phone by the man who became his victim,” said the judge, who added that Spalding then returned to the party where he collected the knife.
Spalding, of Kestrel Close, Ayton, Washington, caught up with Mr Lucas later on, said Mrs Justice Thirlwall, producing the knife as his victim ran for the refuge of his flat.
“We cannot conclude that the sentence was manifestly excessive,” Mrs Justice Thirlwall told the court, dismissing the appeal.
After Spalding was convicted, Andrew’s mum Gaynor, 40, said: “We know Andrew was not an angel when he was alive and led a colourful life. But he was our angel and his life should never have ended this way.
“There will always be a big hole in our lives that cannot be filled now Andrew has gone.
“We hope he (Spalding)never sees light of day outside of prison.”