Two arrested after barristers' clerk stabbed to death

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

A man and a teenager have been arrested after a barristers’ clerk was stabbed to death in a brawl outside a pub.

Joe O’Brien, from Blackley in Manchester, died in hospital after sustaining serious stab wounds in the “large fight” outside the Royal Oak Hotel pub in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, at about 3am on Easter Sunday.

His family paid tribute to a “much-loved son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew and friend”. They said O’Brien, 24, loved his job at Deans Court chambers in Manchester.

Two other men, aged 21 and 23, were injured in the fight. The 21-year-old was taken to hospital, where he was being treated for stab wounds that were not believed to be life threatening, Greater Manchester police said.

A 22-year-old man and a 17-year-old have been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder and remain in custody for questioning.

O’Brien’s mother, Roz McDonald, said: “Joe was a much loved son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew and friend to many. He was hard working and had a great sense of humour. He was kind and generous, both with his time and with his money.

“His friends, his family and Manchester United were his life. The majority of Joe’s time was spent either with his friends, or caring for his mother, who he always put first.”

One of O’Brien’s friends, Cal Robinson, told the Manchester Evening News the stabbing had “not just taken one person’s life away – Joe’s family and friends will suffer for the rest of their lives”.

Robinson added: “These crimes are happening more and more every day. When will this stop? When will justice be served on those who carry knives?”

DCI Cheryl Chatterton said: “We are deeply saddened by Joe’s death and determined to find answers for his family, who are being cared for by specialist officers at this dreadful time.

“While we have made arrests, it is absolutely essential that anyone with information comes forward to the police as soon as possible.”

Information can be left with police by calling 0161 856 9908 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.