Man jailed for 17 years after stabbing friend to death in Cinderford

Michael Beach
-Credit: (Image: Gloucestershire Police)

A man from Cinderford jailed for life for murdering his friend last year. Michael Beach, 46, from Ruspidge Road in Cinderford, had denied murdering Scott Hopkins on Friday, December 8, 2023.

Beach instead admitted to manslaughter, claiming the fatal chest stab wound was inflicted "by accident". However, after a week-long trial at Gloucester Crown Court, the jury delivered a unanimous guilty verdict for murder.

Scott Hopkins sadly lost his life after the incident at a High Street property in Cinderford at around 10.20pm on Friday, 8 December 2023. Despite the efforts of officers and paramedics, Scott died at the scene.

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Evidence presented during the trial revealed that Scott had been enjoying drinks with Beach and another friend at a local pub in Cinderford on the day of the incident, seemingly in good spirits. Later that evening, the group went back to a flat on Cinderford High Street to carry on drinking, where Scott followed Beach into the kitchen.

Beach testified that he had unintentionally stabbed Scott while turning around with a kitchen knife in hand, which he claimed to have been using to chop cannabis. He said he had been unaware of Scott's presence and believed Scott was approaching him for a hug, prompting him to push Scott aside to pass by.

The jury rejected Beach's account, convicting him of murder on Friday (7 June). The judge said that the "significant force" must have involved.

Scott's body was pierced by a single knife wound of 9cm that pierced his lung and aorta, causing him to die at the spot in spite of the paramedics' best efforts.

Scott Hopkins
Scott Hopkins -Credit:Gloucestershire Police

Bodycam footage presented to the jurors showed Beach confessing to stab Scott to both a police officer and a paramedic. Beach will be required to serve 17 years in prison before he is eligible for parole consideration, minus the time he has already spent on remand.

In response to the sentencing, Scott's family issued a statement which said: "As a family we would like everyone to know Scott had a heart as big as him. At 6ft 1ins his character was as big and bold as he was.

"He will be eternally missed, forever loved and consistently remembered. Nothing will ever bring Scott back, but this result goes some small way to bringing peace to us all. We also want to say a huge thank you to everyone from the investigation who have helped us since the start.

"Every single person has worked so hard to support us and get us to this point. As a family this is the last thing we want to say, as the families on both sides of this case have young children who have to now move on with lives that have changed forever."

During sentencing, His Honour Judge Lambert said: "The highly distressing nature of this case is accentuated by the fact that we simply do not know why you did what you did. It may be you do not know either. What we do know is there was absolutely no need for it.

"I detected a good deal of spineless avoidance by you, both before the trial, and at trial. The jury was sure that your account of pushing the deceased, with a knife in your hand, to get past him, when he was about to give you a hug, was another piece of avoidance.

"Scott was a family man and enjoyed a happy family life with his wife and their blended family of five. You bear the heaviest burden of responsibility for stealing a loving husband and father from his family.

Detective Inspector Adam Stacey, from the Major Crime Investigation Team, added: "Scott was a beloved husband, son, brother, father and friend and his death has had an unbearable impact on both his loved ones and the tight-knit community of Cinderford.

"Beach's senseless actions on that night have torn apart so many lives. Our thoughts remain with Scott's family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.

Richard Parkhouse, Senior Crown Prosecutor said: "Last week a jury found Michael Beach guilty of murdering his friend Scott Hopkins.

"In firmly rejecting his explanation that wounding Scott was an accident that amounted to manslaughter the verdict highlights the consequence of using knives as weapons.

"Actions have consequences for Michael Beach a life sentence of which he must serve a minimum time of 17 years in prison; for the family and friends of Scott Hopkins living without him and his life that was so needlessly taken."

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