Six-year jail term for stabbing killer

Have your say

A KILLER who stabbed a man nine times before slashing him across the face has been locked up for six years.

Gary McKeown, aged 37, stabbed Philip Smith at his home on Church Street, Thurnscoe, wielding the kitchen blade as the victim lay on the floor calling for an ambulance.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the fatal incident happened in January after a row escalated between the killer, his nephew Gary McKeown Jr and 36-year-old Mr Smith’s younger brother, Ben.

McKeown admitted manslaughter on the grounds of loss of self-control. He was being tried for murder, which he denied.

Judge Mr Justice Cranston said Mr Smith’s death was a ‘tragedy’.

However, he said there were mitigating circumstances which enabled him to reduce McKeown’s jail term.

Mr Smith’s family said they were unhappy with the sentence.

In a statement read outside court, Julie Hart, his cousin, said: “We all feel that justice has not been done.

“Philip was a caring person who didn’t deserve to lose his life.”

McKeown was jailed for two-and-a-half years in 1997 for slashing a man’s face with a craft knife and for four years in 2003 for possessing heroin.

He kept knives in his bathroom and under the bed, and an axe in his wardrobe.

The court heard Mr Smith and his brother, who lived nearby, went to Church Street to confront McKeown, who had injured Ben in a fight earlier in the day.

“It seems to have been a fight where drugs were in the background,” said Mr Justice Cranston. He said McKeown had been violently attacked.

“His motivation was fear.”

But the judge said McKeown’s reaction was ‘intense’ and that slashing Philip Smith’s face was a ‘particularly vicious act’.

DCI Tom Whiteley, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “The family clearly wanted a sentence for murder. The sentence that has been given is, I think, representative of these circumstances.”