A drug addict who armed himself with a knife to break into a vulnerable man’s flat then stabbed him through the heart as he slept has been jailed for life after a jury found him guilty of murder.
Damien Noble was told by a judge he must spend a minimum of 22 years behind bars before he can be considered for parole.
As he left the dock at Sheffield Crown Court, Noble called out to his victim James King’s family in the public gallery: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it to happen.”
The jury took less than two hours to find Noble, aged 31, formerly of West Street, Denaby, Doncaster, guilty of murdering Mr King, who was known as Jock.
Noble was caught in possession of a £20 note stolen from the scene which was found to have Mr King’s blood on it.
The court heard Noble armed himself, then broke into 40-year-old Mr King’s flat last November while Mr King, himself a drug user, slept on his sofa.
Mr Justice Peter Coulson said Noble went to Mr King’s flat in Tadcaster Close, Denaby, to steal drugs and money.
He said he accepted Noble had not intended to kill Mr King, but to seriously injure him.
Noble used ladders to get through an open window at the first floor flat and, once inside, stabbed Mr King ‘almost immediately’ through the heart, the judge said.
He added: “You intended to cause him serious injury - in fact, you killed him.”
Detective Superintendent Dave Barraclough from South Yorkshire Police said: “This was an unprovoked violent attack on a defenceless man in his own home, which led to his death.
“I am grateful to those who came forward to provide evidence about the events and circumstances surrounding James’ death and for the support from local residents.
“I hope James’ family can now find some closure and try to move on with their lives.”
Mr King’s father John said: “Jock was a doting and loving stepfather to his ex-wife’s three children, however after the breakdown of his marriage Jock sadly lost his way.
“His lifestyle became turbulent. The whole community is saddened by his loss, especially the elderly who would have Jock look after their gardens.
“We thank the police for a thorough investigation.”