A TEENAGER has admitted killing a devoted day who was stabbed to death in front of his distraught fiance four days before christmas.
David Charlton, 25, was knifed eight times as he and Kirsty Claughan walked home from the Last Orders pub in South Shields on December 21 last year, after a rare night out.
The couple, who were about to move to a new life in Durham, had been due to go christmas shopping for their little girl the following day.
Miss Claughan made a video statement to police detailing the horror she witnessed that night, just hours after she was told her husband-to-be was dead.
The grieving mum sat in the witness box at Newcastle Crown Court as the heartbreaking foortage was played to jurors during the trial of the teenager, which ended with a hung jury.
The youth, who cannot be named, yesterday pleaded guilty to manslaughter, meaning the murder charge he faced was dropped.
Miss Claughan told detectives she has blocked out most of what she saw that night but remembers trying to wake David up after he had been stabbed.
She said she and David had been “happy” during their night out and said “he was just jolly” as they walked home.
Miss Claughan told jurors David was not the sort of person who would go out looking for a fight or get involved in mindless violence.
She said: “He would stick up for me but he wouldn’t start with people if they hadn’t done anything.”
Miss Claughan told detectives the details of the attack were completely gone from her mind.
She said: “I don’t know if I have just tried to block it out.
“I don’t understand, I can’t remember him getting stabbed or anything.
“I tried to wake him up.”
The court heard the couple had had a few drinks in their South Shields home before heading to the Last Orders for karaoke night.
David had finished his last shift at Nissan for the christmas holidays just hours earlier.
Miss Claughan told the police: “We were supposed to be going shopping today for the bairn.”
The court heard as the couple walked home they passed Keith Honeyman, 20, and the teenager, who were lurking in a lane behind Stanhope Road so they could rob a drug dealer.
After an exchange of words David was subjected to the brutal knife attack.
Passers by, paramedics and hospital staff desperately tried to help him but his life could not be saved.
He was pronounced dead in the early hours of the following morning.
Keith Honeyman, 20, of Alice Street, South Shields, has pleaded guilty to murder.
Paul Carr, 31, of Hudson Street, South Shields, has admitted assisting an offender.
They will be sentenced alongside the teenager on July 12.
Speaking after the hearing, David’s heartbroken sister Gemma Charlton said: “Six months ago, my brother David worked his last shift at Nissan before the Christmas break, then headed to his local pub with his fiance.
“There they laughed, played pool and discussed what presents they would buy their three-year-old daughter for Christmas.
“Before leaving the pub to walk home David shook the hands of many friends and neighbours, wishing them a happy Christmas.
“Our loving, gentle, smiling David never made it home that night. He was killed on his way in an unprovoked and vicious knife attack.
“An attack that has devastated our family and that has left a young daughter forever without her doting dad.
“Today, those who were responsible for David’s cowardly murder faced justice. They have shown no remorse for their actions, and now we must show no tolerance to those who choose to carry knives.
“To stop more tragedies like ours - if you are a member of the public and know someone who carries a knife, you need to inform the police. If you work in the criminal justice system you need to use all of your powers to clamp down on those you believe carry knives.
“Our family has received incredible support from friends and the local community. Our darkest days have been slightly lightened by the courage and care shown by the passers-by who tried to help David as he lay injured at the scene, and by the witnesses who came forward to help secure these convictions. We thank you all.
“We would also like to thank Northumbria Police, South Tyneside Hospital, the North East Ambulance Service, The Glen Corner Trust, the court staff, Victim Support and the prosecuting legal team for their professionalism and care.
“The gentle and caring manner in which David lived his life could not have been further from the vicious and hateful manner in which his life was taken.
“As our brother, son, fiance or dad, we will always remember him with love.”
DCI Paul Young, who led the case said: “This was a deeply tragic incident which resulted in the death of David Charlton, just four days before Christmas last year.
“His family have been left devastated by what happened and we welcome the guilty pleas. I hope they help bring some form of closure and peace to them all.
“We would like to thank the family for their courage, bravery and dignity shown throughout the investigation. It’s been down to their help and support that officers have been able to secure these convictions today.
“I’d also like to thank the local community for their support and the information they passed onto police throughout the investigation.
“This case again highlights the extreme danger of carrying knives and should act as a warning to anyone that carries a knife that their decision could result in an innocent person’s life being taken.
“Thankfully levels of knife crime aren’t as prevalent in the north east as they are in other parts of the country. However we are not complacent and as a force we will continue to take a hard line on anyone involved in any form of knife crime.”