Teenager's killer gets 9½ years

The killer of Norwich teenager John Sewell was jailed for nine and a half years this afternoon after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

A drug dealer who killed Norwich teenager John Sewell has been jailed for more than nine years - but the victim's parents said no sentence could ever bring back their son.

Daniel Horner, 24, of Watling Road, Norwich, had admitted manslaughter on Tuesday after a murder trial was halted and the original charges dropped. He, along with two other defendants also sentenced at Norwich Crown Court, was at the centre of riots on the city's Heartsease estate in October.

Eighteen-year-old John Sewell died after Horner plunged a knife through his ribs and into his heart.

After the hearing, Ray and Jane Sewell paid tribute to their son - an enthusiastic sportsman who was much loved in the community.

The court heard how two rival groups had carried on fighting even after police arrived. Paramedics tended to Mr Sewell as missiles were thrown over their heads. Even hardened police officers were “terrified”.

Mr Sewell, of Woodforde Road, said: “It's just so hard to describe what kind of an effect something like this has on a family. It's been completely devastating and I'm not sure when we will ever get back to anything like normal.”

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John attended Heartsease First and Middle Schools and Heartsease High School and had been due to start his first full-time job in November.

His passion was football and he had played as a striker and in midfield for five different teams: Old Catton, Lakeford, The Canary Pub, the Rosary Tavern and the Witard Road Church team.

His family said they had been moved by a public outpouring of grief with dozens of bunches of flowers being laid at the scene of his death. More than 250 people attended his funeral and the congregation raised £200, which will buy football trophies in John's memory.

Mrs Sewell said: “We do feel some satisfaction that Daniel Horner has now admitted his guilt in causing John's death. But whatever sentence the judge handed down today would never have been enough for us because it would never bring John back to us.”

Horner, who was sentenced to nine and a half years, also admitted supplying heroin and possession with intent to supply. Martin Punchard and a 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted affray for their involvement in the build up to the stabbing and the riots that ensued.

Both were sentenced to eight months in custody, with the 16-year-old serving his time in a detention and training centre.

Trouble flared on October 27 after problems between a group in the Canary pub and a group of teenagers nearby who had bought alcohol from a shop. At one point Horner was heard threatening to get a gun.

Mr Sewell was stabbed after seeking a “one on one” fight with Horner. Punchard and the 16-year-old were then involved in violent confrontation in which items including slabs of concrete and garden tools were thrown.

Judge Peter Jacobs heard how all three had a long list of previous convictions and described their history as “depressing”. Describing the events he said: “The chemistry was there and it was clear some sort of explosion would be the result.”

Afterwards senior investigating officer Det Chf Insp Paul Sanford said: “John's death has been a complete tragedy for his family and friends. In addition, we know that the attack on John and the subsequent large-scale disorder on the estate immediately afterwards sent out shock waves among many members of the community.

“This has been a challenging investigation and I would echo the judge's comments in commending my team for carrying out a thorough enquiry in difficult circumstances.”