Man sentenced to life for murder of Stevenage man Mark Butler

A STEVENAGE man who stabbed to death a friend he described as being ‘like a brother’ to him was jailed for life on Monday, after being convicted of his murder.

Dwayne Parchment, 29, of Bowcock Walk, Stevenage, was convicted by a jury at Luton Crown Court of the murder of Mark Butler on July 13 last year.

The jury of five women and seven men took less than three hours to reach their unanimous verdict.

Judge Richard Foster passed a life sentence and told Parchment that he will serve a minimum term of 14 years before being able to apply for parole.

He said: “Mark Butler’s tragic death has caused a mother to lose her only son and his young daughter to lose her father.

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“You were fuelled by drink and drugs which is an aggravating feature and you murdered him in the course of whatever went on it that room that afternoon.

“I accept it was not premeditated, that he was your friend and there was no intention to kill him, but you did intend to cause really serious bodily harm.”

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Mr Foster added: “I hope this will give some closure to the family and friends of the deceased.”

Mr Butler’s mother, Sandra Butler, paid tribute to her son after the verdict. She said:

“We are still so shocked and saddened about what happened to Mark and we miss him every day.

“I am very sad that Mark’s daughter Georgia, who he was so devoted to, will not have her dad to see her grow up, succeed in life and walk her down the aisle one day.

“It is also so tragic that she will grow up knowing that her father was taken from her so cruelly.

“My only hope now is that this prison sentence will give Mark’s killer the time to consider his actions and the devastating impact they have had on my family.”

During the trial, Prosecutor Isabel Delamere told the jury that Mr Butler was killed at Parchment’s address by a single stab wound that penetrated his heart.

She said there had been no sign of a struggle, and the victim did not have any defensive wounds on his hands or arms. But he did have scratches on his face which could have been inflicted with a bladed weapon prior to him being stabbed.

The fatal wound had fractured a rib and punctured both lungs before penetrating the heart.

A pathologist said a ‘severe degree of force’ would have been required to inflict that injury.

Parchment’s girlfriend, Zoe McGonnell came home to find Mr Butler dying and called an ambulance. A neighbour who had been gardening heard her scream in horror shortly before the ambulance arrived. Other neighbours had also heard loud music, shouting and doors slamming inside the property.

“One neighbour heard Parchment say something about ‘don’t tell me what to do in my own house’,” said Miss Delamere.

She said Parchment left the scene, having changed his clothes and taking the knife with him. He went to his grandmother’s in London and was arrested on July 15.

In court, Parchment told the jury that he and Mark had been drinking and smoking crack cocaine together, when Mr. Butler began to get agitated and aggressive with him.

He said he picked up a knife from the table to prevent Mr Butler getting it and then there was a struggle between the two men and they toppled onto a sofa and he realised the victim had been stabbed.

After the sentencing, senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Carl Foster of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “Our sympathies go out to Mark’s family today.

“They have been tremendously brave throughout the investigation and the trial.

“I hope that through today’s verdict and sentencing, Mark’s family can find some comfort that the man who killed him will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars.”

Parchment, of Bowcock Walk, Stevenage had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 32-year-old Mr. Butler who lived in Burydale, Stevenage.

36-year-old Zoe McGonnell who was arrested and charged on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in relation to Mark’s murder, pleaded guilty in December. She is expected to be sentenced at Luton Crown Court tomorrow (Tuesday).

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