Police say Stephen Sleaford’s stabbing of Janusz Smoderek was a ‘vicious and cowardly attack’ carried out by a man with a history of violence.
A jury at Lincoln Crown Court today found Sleaford guilty of the murder of the 48-year-old Polish flower packer by a majority verdict. He received a life sentence and must serve a minimum of 23 years.
Sleaford and two friends were walking home from a pub in Boston in the early hours of September 11 2011 when they went to the aid of an 18 year-old girl, who was receiving unwanted attention from Mr Smoderek.
Sleaford pursued Mr Smoderek along Sleaford Road, where he inflicted five stab wounds to the victim’s chest area, leaving him to die. The image above shows the knife used to kill Mr Smoderek.
Sleaford then returned to the girl and walked her to meet her boyfriend.
Mr Smoderek’s body was found later that morning in the garden of a property in Sleaford Road.
Stephen Sleaford then went on the run for 11 days, travelling to Newcastle and then back to Lincolnshire before eventually being arrested at a former girlfriend’s address in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.
The jury was told that Sleaford had a previous conviction for GBH in 1994, when he had been sentenced to 11 years for shooting a man.
Det Supt Stuart Morrison said, “This was a vicious and cowardly attack on an unarmed man. Irrespective of the circumstances in which Sleaford intervened that night, the level of violence used on Mr Smoderek was utterly disproportionate and resulted in a family losing a husband, father and grandfather.
“When people carry knives, there is always the potential for a tragedy to occur, and in this case, the knife was in the possession of a man with a history of violence who thought nothing of taking a man’s life.”
Three other people pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Stacey Michelle Buckley, 26, of Garden Street, Darfield, Barnsley
Natisha Nodder, 36, of Skirbeck Road in Boston
Steven Michael Ebbutt, 43, of Ingelow Avenue in Boston
They will be sentenced at a later date.