A VICIOUS killer will spend at least 27 years behind bars for knifing a dad-of-three through the heart outside a Sheffield drugs den.
Drug dealer and crack addict Benjamin Grant fatally stabbed 29-year-old Damian Taff with a lock knife during a fight near a 24-hour drug shop on Swanbourne Road, Sheffield Lane Top, in the early hours of September 1 last year.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Class A drugs were dealt at the house from a specially-adapted annexe, guarded by pit bull terriers and fitted with reinforced steel doors.
Judge Mr Justice Andrew Smith said Grant, aged 31, was “intent on attacking” Damian on the night of the murder, adding he was determined to “get his own back” after being punched in the face during the confrontation.
Another two drug dealers – Ryan Wood, 30, and Emily Sanderson, 38 – were also locked up for their roles in the operation, alongside ‘odd-job man’ Antonio Anderson, 32.
Grant’s then girlfriend, Helen Thomas, 28, was jailed for providing the killer with a false alibi, telling police he was inside Swanbourne Road at the time of the stabbing.
After the sentencing, Damian’s partner Lyndsay Mitchell – mum of his one-year-old son Riley and daughter Brooke, seven – said she was “really happy” with the length of the jail terms.
But she added: “None of this brings Damian back to me, but he will be with me and my children for the rest of our lives.”
Damian’s mum Janet Taff, 51, said she was ‘very pleased’ after the hearing, saying justice had been served.
The judge said the Swanbourne Road operation was a ‘destructive business’ with a steady stream of customers from across Sheffield.
Grant had been asked to police the drugs shop after addict Damian, from Margate Drive, Grimesthorpe, had robbed another customer, he added.
“The robbery led to a confrontation between you and Mr Taff,” the judge told Grant. “You were punched by Mr Taff, he moved off, and you went after him.
“You were not alone, but you were a leader in the pursuit and were party to the fatal attack.
“You were determined to get your own back. You went after Mr Taff intent on attacking him,” Mr Justice Andrew Smith said.
Damian’s last words were ‘Benjamin Grant’ – spoken to officers who attended the murder scene as he took his dying breaths.
Sanderson cleaned the weapon after the killing, while Anderson tried to hide the knife.
The judge also described mum-of-three Sanderson and Wood as ‘shopkeepers’, and said Anderson carried out maintenance work such as installing a pipe used to deliver drugs to customers.
Grant, of Follet Road, Shiregreen, was convicted by jurors of murder and conspiring to sell Class A drugs. He was jailed for life with a minimum of 27 years.
Sanderson, of Swanbourne Road, admitted conspiring to supply drugs and perverting the course of justice, and was locked up for eight-and-a-half years.
Anderson, of Masters Crescent, Parson Cross, was found guilty of the same charges and was jailed for seven years and nine months.
Wood, of Liberty Place, Stannington, was cleared of murder and manslaughter, but admitted conspiracy to supply and was sentenced to six years.
Thomas, also of Follet Road, will serve nine months in prison.