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Cheshire man found guilty of murdering pub landlord

Lee Abbott has been found guilty of murdering a pub landlord in Widnes. Credit: Cheshire Police

A man who stabbed a landlord 11 times after being barred from his pub has been found guilty of his murder.

Lee Abbott, 35, was convicted of murdering father-of-three Christian Thornton, 49, at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said.

The trial, which lasted almost two weeks, heard Abbott was armed with a large kitchen knife when he went to the Hammer and Pincers pub in Widnes on August 11 last year.

  • Video report by Andy Bonner

The kickboxer had been barred from all pubs in the area for 12 months as part of the PubWatch scheme after threatening to burn Mr Thornton's premises down.

The jury was told Mr Thornton was on the phone to police to report Abbott when he stabbed him 11 times in the space of 21 seconds.

Witness David Johnson told police: "There was no stopping him, he just ran like a mad man."

Abbott, of Rose Street, Widnes, was arrested about an hour later by armed police at his friends' house nearby.

Credit: Liverpool Echo

Abbott admitted manslaughter but denied murder on the grounds he did not have the intent to murder as he was heavily intoxicated and had diminished responsibility on the basis of an abnormality of mental functioning.

The jury was told he was sexually abused by a gangster when he was a teenager.

His estranged wife Kerri Abbott told the court Abbott had believed he was Jesus and had episodes where he would "lose touch with reality".

Detective Inspector Kate Tomlinson said: "Abbott's actions that day have torn a family apart and rocked the local community.

"Christian was a well-known character locally, he did so much for local charities and will be greatly missed by many.

"Before the incident Abbott had the opportunity to walk away, but instead he made a conscious decision to return and attack Christian, which ultimately resulted in his death.

"This has left three children without their father, and his wife, Pam, has lost a loving husband."

Abbott is due to be sentenced on Friday