A CHESTER man who stabbed his friend of more than 40 years in the back with a large kitchen knife has been jailed.

Paul Andrews, 62, of Alder Grove, Hoole, had driven Russell Feeney to his home on October 3, 2019, before plunging the knife with an eight-inch blade completely into Mr Feeney's back.

Andrews denied attempted murder but a trial jury at Chester Crown Court found him unanimously guilty last month.

Appearing via videolink from HMP Altcourse on Monday, October 19, Andrews was sentenced to 18 years, and must serve a minimum of 12 years in prison.

Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett said Andrews had not shown a hint of remorse, adding: "The only thing you are sorry about is that the jury saw through your lies."

Prosecuting, Mark Connor told the court that on the day of the offence, Andrews had dashed out of his house after stabbing Mr Feeney in the back.

Previously, the trial jury had heard Mr Feeney – still with the knife in his back – followed Andrews out of the house, saying: "Why did you do this to me? I loved you like a brother."

Andrews then drove straight to Blacon Police Station, leaving his long-term friend to die. When at the station, he told police he wanted to hand himself in, as he was responsible for a stabbing in Hoole.

Judge Everett remarked Andrews's behaviour at that moment in the police station was "worrying", adding: "He looked as if he was out for a Sunday stroll."

Despite the initial confession, Andrews then gave a no comment interview and subsequently denied attempted murder.

Only in the pre-sentence report did Andrews give any explanation for the stabbing, claiming Mr Feeney had made some offending comments.

Judge Everett said: "Even if that was the case, it does not justify what he did at all."

During the trial, Andrews had also made the spurious claim that Mr Feeney's son James had involvement with a 'cannabis group' which had gone to Andrews's home to carry out the attack, wrongly suggesting James Feeney was in some way responsible for his father's injuries.

Judge Everett said: "It was an awful thing to suggest. It was telling how upset he [James Feeney] became about how he felt when his father was in hospital.

"He [Andrews] admits the offence but took his chances in the trial. Even in the pre-sentence report it's still part of his case that Russell Feeney was supplying cannabis. I don't believe that for a minute."

Mr Connor said Mr Feeney was a vulnerable man, having had a brain haemorrhage in 1994 which left him with a mental age of 13.

A victim impact statement from James Feeney said he and the family were "at a loss" as to how Andrews could do this.

He recalled spending his younger years with Andrews, at Sunday roasts at his mum's house where he was invited, and them spending camping trips and celebrating Christmas together.

Andrews was "trusted like a family member" and Russell Feeney "thought he was like a brother".

Judge Everett said when this was put to Andrews during the trial, his response was "cold and uncaring".

The court heard that, since the stabbing, Russell Feeney was "in constant pain", having required 49 staples from his back to the centre of his chest as a scar.

The knife had sliced his lung, which had healed, but he was still on strong painkillers almost daily.

But the psychological impact was, the court heard, "catastrophic, irreparable in some ways".

Mr Feeney's wife Belinda, known as Suki, making an impact statement on behalf of Mr Feeney, said both of them felt "imprisoned" since the incident last October.

Previously Mr Feeney would go out and visit family around Chester and be happy, and had "a beautiful smile", but Mrs Feeney had not seen him smile since last October, which she found heartbreaking.

Mr Feeney would also have recurring nightmares of Andrews standing behind him laughing, making him afraid to sleep at night.

Mrs Feeney added: "Our lives have been totally destroyed by the defendant."

Andrews had previous convictions from the 1970s up to 1994, which included "outbursts of violence" and an incident where a knuckle duster was found at his home.

Defending, Brian Treadwell said Andrews had admitted the stabbing after the trial when speaking to a probation officer, saying it was "impulsive" and appeared to have arisen from a trivial disagreement, which provided an explanation for what he did, but did not justify it.

Mr Treadwell said Andrews could not believe what he had done, "bitterly regretted" it and added: "If I had the chance to talk to him I would say I was genuinely sorry."

He said he was struggling to come to terms with what he had done and was seeking help.

Mr Treadwell added Andrews would be well into his 70s by the time he was released from prison, and would be less likely at risk of serious harm.

Judge Everett said it was "just astonishing" Mr Feeney was not killed after being stabbed, adding that if he had, Andrews would have been facing a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

"Fortunately for him, and fortunately, I would suppose, for you to some extent, Russell Feeney did not die," the judge told Andrews, "but in that moment you broke him.

"What I find inexplicable is you knew him for 40 years. When he had a brain haemorrhage which turned him into a boy in a man's body, you were wonderful.

"Despite what you so chillingly said he was not like a brother, you knew full well what was meant and you were.

"We will never know why you decided to [stab him]. And then you left him to die.

"This was a terrible case. You have taken away what little he [Mr Feeney] had and left him as a shell."

As well as the 18-year prison sentence, the kitchen knife and the lock knife were to be forfeited and destroyed.