A FATHER of four died in front of three of his sons after being fatally stabbed when a Thursday night drinking session among a group of friends in Worcester went badly wrong.

Their evening ended with the sound of police and ambulance sirens echoing across the city’s Dines Green estate as 39-years-old John Mansell lay in a steadily spreading pool of blood on the pavement outside his home above the Co-op store in Gresham Road. A six inch kitchen knife had  been plunged into him four times by a teenage neighbour.

Sixteen-year-old Jason Curtis returned to his home opposite and grabbed the knife to disastrously intervene in a fight between his step-father Stewart Curtis and an intoxicated Mr Mansell, who had earlier asked the youth to kiss him.

On hearing the fracas, three of the victim’s sons ran to help their father, but it was too late. John Mansell was rushed by ambulance to Worcester’s A&E department at Ronkswood Hospital where he died in the early hours of the following day, Good Friday.

The events of March 31, 1994 were re-visited nine months later when Jason and Stewart Curtis appeared in the dock at Stafford Crown Court on December 7 in connection with the killing.

The court heard that on that fateful spring evening, Jason Curtis  and two friends had been on a drinking session in Worcester with Mr Mansell, who lived opposite the Curtis family in Gresham Road and had not long moved to the city from West Bromwich with his wife and four children. As the group headed back to Dines Green, Mansell, said by prosecuting counsel John Saunders QC to be “considerably the worse for wear by closing time”, suddenly headbutted Jason Curtis four times.

He attempted to make up for the attack by asking Curtis to kiss him on the cheek, which the young man did, and then on the lips, which was refused. When Jason Curtis got home he told his stepfather Stewart what had happened and the 36-year-old set off on a revenge mission.

Stewart Curtis charged out into the street, confronted Mr Mansell and attacked him. During the fight, Jason Curtis ran to his house and returned with a kitchen knife which he used to stab Mansell four times, fatally wounding him.

Mr Saunders added that on hearing the noise on the road outside, three Mansell sons  emerged from their home but could not help their dying father. Initially police arrested five males, including three juveniles, on suspicion of murder, but eventually it was only Stewart and Jason Curtis who faced charges.

Jason Curtis denied murder but admitted manslaughter and this was accepted by the prosecution, while Stewart Curtis admitted grievous bodily harm with intent. Anthony Hughes, representing Jason Curtis, said his client had only stabbed Mr Mansell because he was provoked.

Judge Kenneth Taylor sentenced Jason Curtis to three years detention and jailed Stewart Curtis for 18 months, the culmination of a friends’ night out which left one dead and two incarcerated.