A teenager who stabbed a popular lawyer to death as he walked through a shopping centre to get home after a day at work has been jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years.
Ewan Ireland was just 17 when he attacked 52-year-old Peter Duncan at the entrance to Newcastle’s Eldon Square shopping centre in August.
The two had merely brushed past each other when the agitated youth pulled out a screwdriver he had just shoplifted and stabbed the devoted father once in the heart.
Mr Duncan, who was an in-house lawyer for an international maritime firm, managed to walk a few yards further before collapsing close to a Greggs outlet.
Mr Justice Lavender sentenced Ireland to life with a minimum term of 15 years, saying the sentence would have been longer had he been 18 at the time.
After the killing, which caused shock and outrage on Tyneside, Northumbria Police said the attack was unprovoked and described it as a “chance encounter”.
Sentencing, Mr Justice Lavender said Ireland’s offending started at the age of 14, and he has offences of theft, battery, public order and making threats with knives on his record.
“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.”
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A defence psychiatrist reported that Ireland had “severe autism spectrum disorder and intermittent explosive disorder” – the second of which means he was unable to control “impulsive or anger-based aggressive outbursts”, the judge said.
The prosecution psychiatrist said he had “traits of autism spectrum disorder” and “conduct disorder” – symptoms of which include “excessive levels of fighting”.
The judge said: “On either view, you are clearly someone who finds it difficult to control your temper and to refrain from violence.”
Caroline Goodwin QC, defending, said Ireland “had spoken of his absolute remorse and devastation at the act he occasioned which was needless and senseless and took away from the family their father”.
Ireland, who was already on bail for affray when he killed Mr Duncan, pleaded guilty to murder last month.
After Ireland pleaded guilty, it emerged that he was a serial offender who continued to commit violent crimes despite being on bail.
The case sparked anger, with many thinking he should have been named as a killer at the time - despite his age.
At a previous hearing, Newcastle Crown Court heard Ireland had 17 convictions for 31 offences between 2017 and 2019, including an incident where he grabbed a knife during a family argument.
Ireland had previously threatened bus driver
There was also an occasion where the threatened a driver with a blade after he was challenged about drinking alcohol on the bus.
Mr Duncan’s 15-year-old son was in the city centre that evening for a cinema trip and saw the cordoned off area without realising his father had been attacked.
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.”