Judge's heart 'goes out to mother' as man who stabbed his brother to death is jailed for manslaughter
A 36-year-old man who stabbed his brother to death has been jailed for 13 years.
Vincent Bell was convicted of the manslaughter of Damian Banks, 34, in a drink and drug-fuelled attack in Sherburn Road, Durham City, in the early hours of March 30 2019.
A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard both men had been taking cocaine.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said the case was a ‘perfect illustration’ of the harm drugs can do.
“One’s heart goes out to the mother of the two men,” said the judge.
“She has lost one of her sons for the rest of his life, and she has lost her other son to a long prison sentence.
“Both men were fathers, which means their children have lost a parent.”
The court heard the brothers got on well when they were sober and not on drugs, but there had been regular arguments.
On the night of his death, Bell sent Mr Banks out to get money from Bell’s bank account to buy more drugs.
Mr Banks went out despite having a broken leg.
Prosecutor Jamie Hill QC said an argument started when Bell discovered Mr Banks had withdrawn £180 from his account.
Bell claimed Mr Banks hit him on the head with his crutch.
A woman who was with the brothers that night said: “I heard screaming and shouting, I knew it was Vincent having a go at him, he was really angry, Vincent was shouting ‘where’s my money, where’s my stuff?’
“Damian had Vincent on the ground, he was standing on him and we were trying to pull him off. Damian struck the first blow with the crutch. They were both effing and blinding. Vincent said ‘I wish you were dead, you are poison'.
“Vincent was on the come down from the cocaine, he was on it since Thursday, he had no sleep and had been drinking.
“He walked into the kitchen, I heard Vincent opening the drawer, he pulled it back hard. He came out with a kitchen knife. It was six inches with a black handle.
“I heard Damian shouting ‘he stabbed me’ and he fell on the floor.
“He had a wound in his chest and he started breathing funny.
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“There was blood everywhere. I had blood on my hands, I was holding his head.”
Bell was said to have been bleeding from the head after his brother struck him, and fled the scene to his mother’s where he allegedly admitted killing Mr Banks.
Bell, of Turnbull Close, Durham City, denied murder.
He was convicted of manslaughter by the jury after a trial.
John Elvidge QC, defending, said: “Mr Bell will have to live with the knowledge of what happened for the rest of his life.
“He is not by nature a feckless individual, having left sixth form he took an apprenticeship and worked for a number of engineering companies.
“He has been clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety, this and the loss of a partner caused him to lose his job.
“In turn, he came to rely on drink, and to a lesser extent drugs.
“Mr Bell has spent some time in prison on remand, his reports from the prison authorities have been excellent.
“There is another side to him, and we ask the court to show what leniency it can.”
Judge Bournw-Arton jailed Bell for 13 years.
The judge told him; “This case is a perfect example of the damage drugs can do, it is also shows what can happen when someone takes a knife into a volatile situation.
“I reject your assertion this was an accident, the jury by its verdict found you intended to harm your brother, albeit you didn’t intent him serious harm or intend to kill him.
“You will have to live with the consequences of what you did for the rest of your life, as will your mother and wider family.”
Speaking after the case, Detective Superintendent Umberto Cuozzo, of Durham Police who led the investigation, said: “This was a particularly sensitive investigation where an argument between two brothers ended in such tragic consequences, and an unimaginable impact on family and friends.
“My thoughts and those of the investigation team are with them.”