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25 February 2011, 17:22 | Updated: 8 March 2011, 10:19
A 21-year-old man's been sent to jail for at least 21-and-a-half-years after being found guilty of murder.
Sean Flattery, of Seebohm Close in Hitchin, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court on Friday, February 25th, for the murder of a 25-year-old dad, Michael Chalkley.
The pair had become involved in an argument on April 8th 2010 as Michael walked along the Westmill Estate. The argument turned in to a fight, during which Flattery stabbed Michael a number of times. Mr Chalkley was taken to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage but died shortly after arriving.
Flattery was also found guilty of violent disorder and being in possession of an offensive weapon.
Another man - 23-year-old Kyle Holloway from Wilshere Crescent in Hitchin was found guilty of violent disorder in connection with the death and was sent to jail for three-and-a-half years.
A third man was acquitted of violent disorder and has been released from custody. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on a fourth defendent, who has also been released while the police wait for direction from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Sharn Basra, from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “This incident has once again highlighted the perils of carrying a knife. Sean Flattery may not have gone out with the intention of using the knife that night, but when the moment arose he chose to withdraw the knife with no hesitation, perhaps due to the easy accessibility of the weapon, there was only ever going to be one dreadful outcome.
“Michael Chalkley was outnumbered, he was unable to defend himself against the initial assault and by the time the knife was produced he was helpless against what can only be described as a brutal end.
“He was a son, a brother and a father and today those close to him have seen justice. After attacking Michael on April 8, 2010, Flattery and Holloway have today been rightly convicted for their actions and have received sentences which suitably reflect the seriousness of the offences committed."
Michael's mother, Valerie Chalkley, said: "The worse thing a mother can ever be told is that her child has died. Even worse than that is to be told he has been murdered so brutally. My family and I have suffered terribly every day since Michael was so cruelly taken away from us. His children are growing up without a father and his family, without a son and brother, all because of the terrible, mindless and devastating actions of those responsible for his death.
“Michael's killer and assailant will now have a long time behind bars, and I can only hope they take time to consider the irreversible and tragic consequences of their actions that evening. As for me and my family, we will have to live with a sentence of grief and sadness for the rest of our lives."
She added: “We hold no malice towards the families of those involved and we know that this situation could have been avoided by people walking away from the situation, rather than getting involved. We hope in future that people learn from this and decide it is always better to walk away.”
Michael’s family are holding a memorial service for him at 10am on April 8, 2011, at St. Marys Church, Hitchin town centre. All those who wish to attend are welcome.