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Family weep as CCTV footage of Billy Dove stabbing played to court
Family and friends of Billy Dove wept uncontrollably as the final moments of former West Herts College pupil’s life were played out on CCTV.
The 21-year-old trainee motor mechanic had been out celebrating Fireworks Night last November with friends when he was fatally stabbed with a single blow to the chest while trying to break up a large brawl.
Today (Friday June 29) at St Albans Crown Court his killer Darren McGrath, 17, was jailed at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for a minimum of 14 years after admitting murder.
McGrath, of Essex Mews, Hemel Hempstead, can be identified for the first time after a court order protecting his anonymity was lifted by Judge Stephen Gullick.
At the time of the murder, the killer was on licence following early release from a nine-month custodial sentence imposed on him after stabbing a school pupil in the thigh.
He also tested positive for cannabis and cocaine at the time he was arrested for Billy’s murder.
During the emotional hearing, Judge Gullick was forced to repeatedly ask the public gallery – packed with almost 100 friends and family of Billy – for silence.
He said: “Billy Dove was the only child of his parents. He was 21-years-old when he died.
“He was a fine young man who was well-liked and hard-working. He was training to be a motor mechanic.
“Like so many young men he liked to go out with his friends and he had been to a firework party that night at his boss’s house.
“I have read the detailed victim personal statements of both his parents which sets out in poignant detail the immeasurable loss which they and other members of their family have suffered, and will continue to suffer, as a result of your actions that night.”
Footage taken from cameras overlooking Market Square in Hemel Hempstead captured the moment McGrath drove the eight-inch kitchen knife into his victim’s chest, puncturing both lungs and piercing his heart.
Fatally wounded, Billy is seen stumbling towards a paramedic’s car which was parked nearby where police and medics frantically tried to resuscitate him.
He was taken to Watford General Hospital where he was pronounced dead in the early hours of November 6.
McGrath appeared at St Albans Crown Court alongside fellow defendants Carl Williams, 21, of Barnacres Lane, Hemel Hempstead, and Charlie Sansom, 18, of St Agnells Lane, Hemel Hempsted, each admitted one count of affray in relation to the same fight.
Sansom was sentenced to 112 days in jail but was freed having already served that time in custody. Williams was given a 12 month community order.
A fourth defendant Ben Sears, 18, also from Hemel Hempstead is due to be sentenced at a later date for an admitted offence of affray.
Following the stabbing McGrath and Sansom fled the scene but were tracked by CCTV operators and were found hiding in a nearby garden, a bloodstained knife carrying traces of McGrath’s DNA was found buried nearby.
Prosecutor Ian Wade QC said the two groups exchanged words in a passageway connecting Waterhouse Street and Market Square before the confrontation turned violent.
There was no suggestion Billy and his group had been looking for trouble or behaving badly in the run-up to the incident.
Describing footage of the attack, he said: “In being bundled over, Mr McGrath drops the knife out of his hood and bends down to pick it up. What follows is vivid and self explanatory.
“It is reasonable to assume Mr Dove saw the knife fall from his hood and it is reasonable to assume he feared it would be used and his effort was to stop what was happening.
“He threw a punch and it appears to have missed, what followed was one blow delivered chest-high, between the ribs, penetrating one lung, both chambers of the heart and the lung on the other side.
“It was a blow that must have taken real force.”
As McGrath was led down to begin his long custodial sentence several members of the public hurled insults at him and were again rebuked by the judge.