A man has been jailed for murder after kicking and stamping his innocent victim to death over speaking to a girl.
Steven Walton, from Kenton, in Newcastle killed Jason Lord as he walked back to his home on the Montagu Estate following a night out in the city.
The 50-year-old, who was described by his family as a "gentle giant", briefly greeted a young girl as he made his way from the bus stop to his home, saying hello and asking if she was okay as he continued on his way.
However, this sparked a "hysterical" reaction from adults who found out about the interaction including Walton who set out to find Mr Lord in his car.
In that time, the intoxicated victim had lost his balance and was lying on the ground 200 yards from his home.
Upon seeing him, Walton approached and proceeded to kick and stamp on his head, inflicting fatal injuries. Mr Lord was declared dead at the scene.
Walton, 42, of The Crossway, Kenton, Newcastle, denied murder but on Monday 24 July was found guilty by a jury following a six-day trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
On Tuesday 25 July, he was jailed for a minimum of 18 years.
Detective Chief Inspector Angela Hudson, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “First and foremost, I’d like to thank Jason’s family for their strength and poise shown over the last seven months since he was cruelly taken away from them.
“We have been committed to bringing Jason’s killer to justice ever since this awful incident, and I sincerely hope today’s outcome can offer them some comfort.
“On the night he was murdered, Jason was simply walking home when he greeted a young girl as he passed her on the pavement. He did not stop or try to engage in conversation - quite simply, he acted as anyone might have done.
“Walton’s actions, upon hearing about the exchange, were entirely hysterical and his decision to jump in a car and then carry out this brutal attack have destroyed more than one life forever.
“There is never any acceptable excuse for violence, and as a Force we will continue to look to take swift and robust action against perpetrators."
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