Great Britain

Family’s fury after screwdriver killer, 18, who stabbed lawyer to death outside Greggs was under armed robbery probe

THE family of a lawyer stabbed to death by a screwdriver-wielding teenager have reacted with fury after it emerged he was under investigation for armed robbery at the time of the killing.

Ewan Ireland was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday for killing 52-year-old lawyer Peter Duncan after bumping into his outside a Greggs in Newcastle city centre in August.

CCTV footage shows Ireland, who was just 17 when he stabbed Mr Duncan, steal the screwdriver from a local shop, putting it down his trousers before making his way out of the store.

Moments later he used the stolen weapon to attack Mr Duncan.

After the hearing, Mr Duncan's son raged about how his father's killer had been free to roam streets.

The 15-year-old was in the city centre that evening for a cinema trip and saw the crime scene, but didn't realise his dad was the victim.

In a victim statement, he said: "At the time he (Ireland) had been released under investigation in relation to another incident in which a weapon was used.

"I am angry he was out free, and cannot understand why he was not locked up.

"If he had been we would still have my dad to this day."

And his grieving widow Maria told the court: "The person who did this had convictions.

"Nothing stopped him. He continued and he murdered my husband.

"Please do not allow him to devastate any more families. He is a danger to all of us."

'I AM ANGRY HE WAS FREE'

The two had merely brushed past each other when the baby-faced killer pulled out a screwdriver he had just shoplifted, and stabbed the devoted father once in the heart.

Peter, who was an in-house lawyer for an international maritime firm, managed to walk on a few yards before he collapsed.

Ireland, who dreamed of being a footballer, was today caged for life with a minimum of 15 years after admitting murder at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr Justice Lavender said: "You ended his life and you brought lifelong misery and grief to others, especially his parents, his widow, his young children and his brothers and their family.

"All too often, young men like you, who get into the habit of carrying weapons and using them to threaten others, move on to using those weapons to harm others, as you have done.”

His wife Maria earlier told the court about the chilling moment she discovered her husband was dead.

She said: "I thought he had been injured but when I got to the RVI the doctor said there was nothing they could do to save him.

"He had been stabbed straight through the heart and nothing could be done to save him.

"My life ended with those words, they haunt me every single day."

'DAD'S NOT COMING HOME'

Maria was forced to break the devastating news to their sons, aged 12 and 15 and see them "feel that same pain".

One of their children was in the town centre on the day Peter died and saw the murder scene - but only later found out his "dad was not coming home".

He revealed his fears about his mum being alone and questioned why Ireland was free to terrorise the streets when he had 31 previous convictions.

The son said: "I’m angry he was out and free and can’t understand why he was not locked up.

"If he had been, my dad would still be here."

SENSELESS KILLING

Tormented Maria had called her husband on the night of his death to say she had bought their children’s school uniforms and was heading home.

He replied, saying: "Great, I’m leaving work now so will see you soon.”

But on his way home, the devoted dad was stabbed to death with a screwdriver in a "three-second attack" outside a Greggs after Ireland roared: "It's coming for you".

Peter had simply stepped aside to let the teen through the doorway when he was fatally stabbed outside a Newcastle shopping centre.

Ireland admitted murder at a previous hearing, and the media was able to publish his identity once he turned 18 in October.

After the killing, which cause shock and outrage on Tyneside, Northumbria Police said the attack was unprovoked and described it as a "chance encounter".

SERIAL OFFENDER

The day after the murder, Mr Duncan's family said: "Peter was a kind and caring man who was always first to help others.

"He was a devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle and friend and loved by all who knew him.

"His death will leave such a huge hole in our lives and he'll be deeply missed by us all.

"Words can't quite describe what life will be like without him. "He had so much of his life left to live and he'll be in our hearts and thoughts every day."

The case was adjourned after Ireland admitted murder to allow psychiatric and psychological reports to be prepared.

After he pleaded guilty, it emerged that Ireland was a serial youth offender who continued to commit violent crimes despite being on bail.

The Sun Online previously revealed how the killer had posted about wanting to make his dead soldier dad proud.

The teen, who admitted murder, has previous convictions including for chasing his mum Kerry, 39, down the street with a knife.

Ireland moved into a semi in Westerhope, Newcastle, with mum Kerry and brother Declan around five years ago