MURDERED Andrew Lucas’s family today spoke of their heartbreak as their son’s killer begins a 25-year jail sentence.
When they should be celebrating his 21st birthday, Andrew’s family are instead trying to patch their shattered lives back together.
Andrew was stabbed to death by Mark Spalding on a stairwell in Washington last November.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Spalding, 46, was jailed for a minimum of 25 years.
After the hearing, Andrew’s grieving family said: “We finally have justice for Andrew. We hope he dies in jail for what he did. He should rot in hell.”
The family had packed out the public gallery throughout the case.
His mum Gaynor Bainbridge said: “We cannot say this is a happy day. Although we finally feel we have justice, it doesn’t bring Andrew back and that is what we would want more than anything.
“Spalding took away our boy and has just lied and tried to save his own skin since. There’s not a scrap of remorse there at all, he is not sorry for what he has done.
“We are now left with thinking what could have been and all the milestones Andrew will never see.
“He will not see his 21st birthday, he will not see his sister in a wedding dress getting married or meet any new children born into the family.
“All of that has been snatched away from us and no sentence could ever replace any of those special moments. We are happy the judge and the jury saw through Spalding’s lies.”
Spalding, who has 130 previous convictions, had denied murder during a trial and even tried to pin the blame on former pal Paul Mallin, who was tried and cleared over the killing.
While giving evidence in court, Spalding, who had admitted manslaughter, turned to Andrew’s relatives and apologised for what he did.
Judge John Milford said Spalding had “lied repeatedly” throughout the trial, which prolonged the misery of Andrew’s family.
He told the killer: “The only person you have shown any care for in this matter is yourself.”
The judge said at the end of the hearing: “I cannot leave this case without comment on the overwhelming restraint and dignity of Andrew’s family.
“No sentence I can pass and nothing I can say will, I am afraid, soften what they have to suffer but at last I can and I do express my appreciation, it has made my job here much easier and I am grateful to them.”
Prosecutor Christopher Smith told the court Andrew’s family described him as a “practical joker” who loved family life and was close to his relatives.
Mr Smith said: “His death devastated the whole of the family.
“Christmas, which came very shortly afterwards, was a very difficult time for the family. They visited Andrew’s grave on Boxing Day.
“He was 20 years old when he was killed, he would have been 21 next week. “
Andrew’s girlfriend Vanessa Gibson had heard the 20-year-old shouting “no don’t, no don’t” as he was being attacked by Spalding.
She then came face to face with the killer, who had Andrew’s blood on his hands, and told her “I’ve given him a good hiding.”
Jurors heard during the trial, Andrew had stolen Spalding’s mobile phone about 20 minutes before the deadly attack.
Spalding, 46, of Kestrel Close, Washington, then armed himself with a knife, hunting for revenge.
John Elvidge QC, defending Spalding, said: “It was a single stab wound, a single blow to the thigh, not to the upper body, neck or face. It led to loss of life; that was not something that Mr Spalding anticipated, least still intended.”
Spalding had denied he was the killer and tried to blame his pal Paul Mallin, saying he saw his friend punching Andrew then realised there was blood.
Mallin had blamed Spalding for the attack, which proved to be the true version of events.
Spalding had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the fifth day of the trial but continued to deny murder.
Jurors found him guilty and found Mallin, 35, of Dunstanburgh Close, Washington, not guilty of both murder and manslaughter.