Murder victim Jonathan Binns.
Murder victim Jonathan Binns.

A drug addict has been jailed for life for the murder of a Cleckheaton man while three others have been sentenced for his manslaughter.

Kevin John Pickering, 30, must serve at least 23 years in prison after being found guilty at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday of the murder of Jonathan Binns, 41, on August 7 last year.

Pickering, of Royal Crescent, Scarborough, admitted stabbing Mr Binns in the thigh while trying to steal his drugs at the flat – but Mr Binns bled to death from the injury.

Judge Mr Justice Dingemans said it was accepted Pickering, who admitted robbery, had not intended to kill Mr Binns – but that was what happened when knives were used.

Three other defendants, David White, Nicholas Polihronos and Jim Cousins, were convicted of manslaughter.

The court heard Mr Binns was using heroin at a friend’s flat in Eastborough, Scarborough, when the four defendants, all drug users, arrived and decided to rob him of his drugs.

White punched Mr Binns and Pickering picked up a kitchen knife, cutting Mr Binns in the face.

When he would not let go of his coat containing the drugs, Pickering jabbed him in the leg, severing the femoral artery.

The group fled with the coat and drugs.

Pickering, who had previous drugs and wounding convictions, was sentenced separately after suffering a broken nose, fractured jaw and black eyes in a prison attack.

White, 34, of Queens Terrace, Scarborough, was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter by a 10-2 majority. He also admitted robbery and was jailed for 13 years.

Polihronos, 31, of Stoney Haggs Place, Scarborough, was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter by a 10-2 majority and unanimously found guilty of robbery and jailed for 12 years.

Cousins, 31, of Woodlands Place, Manchester, was jailed for 12 years after being acquitted of murder but convicted by an 11-1 majority of manslaughter and unanimously of robbery.

Mr Binns’s sister Julie Anderson said he was the youngest of five who grew up in Cleckheaton and joined the family business.

He suffered a breakdown at 21, losing his house and fiance after becoming involved in drugs through rave music and going to the Hacienda Club in Manchester.

He moved in with his father and stepmother in Scarborough and rebuilt his life, achieving top results at college and getting a full time job.

She said: “We all hoped and believed his previous usage of drugs was behind him.”

She said her brother was much loved and had never caused anyone harm or committed crimes to fund his habit, unlike his killers.

She added: “His death was as a result of a totally unprovoked and frenzied attack by strangers.”