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09:34 Tuesday 29 April 2008 

Bar manager jailed for Eton Wick murder

A man who murdered his colleague at a pub in Eton Wick has been jailed for a minimum of 14 years.

Leigh David Melton was sentenced at Reading Crown Court yesterday after the 24-year-old admitted killing Kelly Ryan, 35, in a frenzied knife attack in September last year.

The court heard how Melton, who was the bar manager at The Three Horseshoes in Eton Wick Road, and head chef Mr Ryan, had taken a dislike to each other since Melton started working at the pub six weeks earlier.

Tensions mounted between the pair, and in the early hours of September 24, the court heard how a \'blazing row\' broke out and Mr Ryan punched Melton.
The bar manager, who has a history of mental health problems, fiercely stabbed his victim twice - once through his chest and into his heart - and then he cut him on the back of the neck.

Prosecutor John Price, told Judge Zoe Smith that a pathologist\'s report suggested Mr Ryan had been stabbed so violently that Melton must have intended to murder.

He told how Mr Ryan\'s blood had been found on the pub safe, suggesting Melton had forced him to hand over cash as he was dying. Mr Price said the landlords calculated that Melton had made off with £2,300 from the pub that night.

Oba Nsugbe, defending, asked Judge Smith to take into consideration Melton\'s demonstration of remorse with his guilty plea, his young age, and his history of mental health problems including a personality and psychopathic disorder.

Sentencing Melton, Judge Smith said: "There is no sentence that the court can pass today that can ease the loss that continues to be suffered by Mr Ryan\'s family.
"He died from two forceful stab wounds with a kitchen knife. This tragedy occurred when there was an extreme loss of control in what you describe as a blazing row. You over-reacted."

Judge Smith imposed a 14 year sentence, rather than the starting term for life imprisonment of 15 years, to take into account the fact that his mental health problems mean he is less able to tolerate frustration and control his temper, as well as his young age, his remorse and good references from prison since his arrest.

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