The killer of St Helens' Danny Fox was jailed for eight and a half years today after admitting offences including spraying bleach at a security guard’s face and robbing an off licence.
A court heard that 22-year-old Leighton Holt had turned to drugs after spending 15 months in prison on remand while facing two murder trials.
The first jury failed to agree a verdict and he was freed after the second jury also failed to agree and a not guilty verdict was formally recorded. He admitted slashing 29-year-old Mr Fox with a knife but claimed he acted in self-defence.
Liverpool’s top judge Clement Goldstone, QC, told Holt that he is a dangerous offender and imposed an extended licence of four years eight months.
He appeared via video link from prison and as he was led away he held up a finger leading relatives of Mr Fox, sitting in the public gallery, to say he was still showing no regard for justice.
Frank Dillon, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that the first offence occurred on October 23 last year when police officers raided his mother’s home in Custley Hey, Stockbridge Village and in a holdall in the garden found a sawn off double barrel shotgun.
The court heard that it had been cut off just below the length which would have meant Holt would have faced an automatic five year jail term.
Two weeks later, on October 6, he struck at Dave’s off licence in Tunstall Lane, Wigan, wearing a black balaclava and waving a knife with a six inch blade. He forced a terrified assistant to open the till and he stole £42 cash and calmly walked off with two bottles of wine.
Three and a half hours later just after 1 am he went into the Asda supermarket in Soho Street, Wigan, and began putting items including high value alcohol into a basket. He started scanning some items but then left them behind and began to leave the store with the alcohol and steaks until stopped by security guard Sam Ormerod.
When told to pay for the items “he lifted up his right hand and sprayed bleach into his face from an arm’s length away,” said Mr Dillon.
Mr Ormerod did not suffer injuries from that but Holt then punched him three times in the face causing a sore cheek and left the store.
When apprehended by police half a mile away he was unco-operative and abusive and in the rear of a police car spat on a police constable’s chin and left cheek.
In interview Holt said he had been drugged dup on Valium and cocaine as he had been “in a bad place” after being accused of killing someone in 12016 and being found not guilty the next year.
Steven Swift, defending, said that he had turned to drugs to try to cope with his emotional difficulties after his release from his 15 month remand facing a murder charge.
Holt, of Custley Hey, pleaded guilty to two robberies, possessing an altered firearm, common assault and possessing a blade.
Judge Goldstone said that during both robberies Holt had been under the influence of drugs and or alcohol and the offences showed a dramatic escalation in his criminal behaviour.
He said that the possession of the shotgun “spoke volumes about the company you keep and your closeness to those who are involved in serious crime.”
Judge Goldstone told Holt that the only relevance of his previous trials for murder was that he had chosen on that occasion to carry a knife in public.