1. ITV Report

Man jailed for 28 years for murder of Cheshire pub landlord

Lee Abbott jailed for jailed for a minimum of 28 years for the murder of Christian Thornton Credit: ITV Granada

The widow of a murdered pub landlord has spoken of her "indescribable pain" as his killer was jailed for a minimum of 28 years.

Lee Abbott, 35, was jailed for life at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday after being found guilty of the murder of father-of-three Christian Thornton, 49, outside the Hammer and Pincers pub in Widnes on August 11 last year, a spokesman for Cheshire Police said.

Christian Thornton

In a statement released after the sentencing, Mr Thornton's widow Pam said:

Lee Abbott not only took my husband's life but also destroyed my life and the lives of our three children.

"Since that day, the indescribable pain I have lived with has been multiplied as I watch our children try to come to terms with losing their dad in such a violent way.

"They do so with dignity and strength that would make their dad proud."

– Pam Thornton, widow of Christian Thornton
Hammer and Pincers pub in Widnes Credit: Liverpool Echo syndication

The court heard Abbott had gone to the pub armed with a large kitchen knife and stabbed Mr Thornton 11 times.

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

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

He told officers: "You don't need any evidence, I stabbed him to f***."

He admitted manslaughter but denied murdered 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."