James Stokoe murder: Man jailed for life after stabbing Teesside dad in front of 4-year-old son

A man has been jailed for life after murdering a Teesside dad in a road-rage attack, in front of the victim's four-year-old son.

Alexander Layton was convicted of murdering James Stokoe on Tuesday (7 December) and was sentenced to 23 years in prison at Teesside Crown Court.

Alexander Layton, 34, stabbed James Stokoe six times with a kitchen knife as the victim's son sat in a booster seat in the back of the car. Credit: Cleveland Police

During the attack, Mr Stokoe's four-year-old son was strapped in a car seat and has been "substantially affected" and left needing therapy because of the trauma of his father's murder, the court heard.

Layton, 34, from Shackleton Close, Thornaby, caused Mr Stokoe to brake sharply as he crossed the busy main road after getting off a bus.

Mr Stokoe pulled over to shout at Layton, who walked up to the car and repeatedly stabbed his victim with a 12-inch kitchen knife he was carrying in his rucksack.

  • CCTV footage shows the moments before the fatal roadside attack

Judge Howard Crowson described Layton's reaction as "disproportionate and unjustified" as he sentenced him to life in prison, telling the defendant: "Alexander Layton, you have been convicted of the murder of James Stokoe, using a 12-inch kitchen knife carried by you as an offensive weapon."

Judge Crowson said the fatal wound was inflicted with such force that it passed through Mr Stokoe's thigh and evidence showed that the victim, who was still behind the wheel of his car, was trying to turn away and "desperately trying to fend off" the attack.

The judge said Mr Stokoe was in a "vulnerable and defenceless position" during the attack, which happened during the day in a public street and was witnessed by many people.

Forensics photograph James Stokoe's white BMW Credit: NCJMedia

CCTV and dashcam footage showed Layton getting off a bus, almost being run over, then stabbing Mr Stokoe, who worked at a local car dealership and was a complete stranger.

The emergency services were called but he bled to death within minutes and died in the back of an ambulance.

Layton fled the scene, dumped the knife, which has not been found and went camping in Great Ayton, before he was arrested the next night in a pizza shop.

Flowers are laid at the roadside where James Stokoe was killed Credit: NCJMedia

In a statement, the Stokoe family said:

"Nothing will ever bring back our beloved James and we have to live with the consequences of what happened for the rest of our lives. He was a much-loved husband, father, son and son in law and he is dearly missed by all of us. James was treasured by so many people with his wonderful, kind and gentle nature and his loss to us all is unimaginable."

The Stokoe's family impact statement was read in court. His wife appeared by video link and spoke of being widowed aged 34 and the tragedy of explaining to her son, "daddy can't ever come home".

Summarising the session, Judge Crowson commended the "exemplary work" of Cleveland Police during the investigation.