A YOUTH who was locked up for four-and-a-half years over the knife death of a man in West Yorkshire has failed in an Appeal Court challenge to his sentence.
Mark Cliff, 21, died of a four-inch deep knife wound which punctured his liver after a confrontation near his home on the Wilton Estate, in Batley, in October 2006.
Ashley Scott Layden, 18, of Ealand Road, also on the Wilton Estate, admitted manslaughter at Leeds Crown Court in September of last year and was sent to a young offenders' institution for four-and-a-half years.
Yesterday he appealed, but was told by three top judges at London's Criminal Appeal Court that the seriousness of his actions in producing the knife was such that only the four-and-a-half year term was justified.
Layden had been with a group of younger teenagers at his sister's house in Laurel Grove, also on the Wilton Estate, on the night of the death, said Lord Justice Moore-Bick today.
Mr Cliff reacted angrily to abuse shouted from the house as he passed and charged at the front door, where Layden was standing with a knife.
It was not known precisely how he suffered his injury, but moments later, Mr Cliff staggered away from the door, clutching his abdomen, and collapsed on the pavement, the judge said.
Layden, who had taken the blade from his sister's kitchen as the confrontation began, called 999 and initially said that he had seen a fight, but did not say that he was involved.
Later, however, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting he had taken a knife from the kitchen, but not deliberately used it or ever intended to. The wound had occurred while he was being assaulted, he said.
Sentencing him, the Crown Court judge said the group had been "spoiling for a confrontation" and had decided to pick on Mr Cliff. Layden had acted in an unlawful and dangerous manner by taking the knife.
His lawyers argued that the sentence he received was "manifestly excessive". He had pleaded guilty, shown remorse and was a very young man of good character, they told the judges.
But, dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Moore-Bick, who sat with Mr Justice Openshaw and Sir Richard Curtis today, referred to the "profound" impact of Mr Cliff's death on his family.
"This is, on any view, a very sad case, which highlights the dangers when knives are produced in situations with high emotions," he said.