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JAILED FOR LIFE: Killer of Marc Clarke was a 'man on a mission'
A "man on a mission" who stabbed another man twice in the back in a fit of rage after harbouring a grudge for a decade was jailed for life today.
Steven Branscombe, who travelled with a knife in his car, spotted Marc Clarke as he innocently stood by his vehicle and Branscombe deliberately swung his car across the busy suburban street and crashed into it.
He then leapt out, walked round the victim's Mercedes and in broad daylight stabbed him twice causing a catastrophic blood loss. He then calmly got back into his own vehicle, in which two children were sitting, and drove off.
A jury at Liverpool Crown Court took just over an hour to find 42-year-old former soldier Branscombe guilty of the January 27 murder in Teehay Lane, Bebington.
The Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC ruled that powerfully-built Branscombe, who showed no emotion, must serve 23 years before he can apply for parole.
Branscombe, of Boswell Street, Birkenhead, had admitted killing Mr Clarke but denied murder, claiming diminished responsibility. He claimed he "snapped" when he saw him because he had been living in fear of him for ten years.
The two men had fallen out in 2001 about the quality of cocaine Mr Clarke had sold him and the judge said he accepted the victim had been involved in beating him up and there may have been other minor incidents over the following years but "not of the frequency and magnitude" Branscombe claimed.
He rejected his claim that the victim had been involved in smashing his car windows with a hammer and later pouring inflammable liquid at his home. "You were a man quite capable of making other enemies," he said.
The judge also rejected his assertion that the background had led to him developing post traumatic stress disorder. "It caused you to harbour a burning grudge against Marc Clarke which festered for some considerable time."
He pointed out that three violent incidents involving other men were a testament to Branscombe's outbursts of temper.
When he and 42-year-old Mr Clarke, who no longer dealt drugs, met by chance in a supermarket last year he told him they had unfinished business.
"You decided that if and when the opportunity presented itself you would take it and it did on the afternoon of January 27. You saw your opportunity to conclude that unfinished business and you did it with fierce single-minded determination.
"A man on a mission and mission accomplished, you drove off as though nothing had happened."
The court heard that having dropped the children off at their home Branscombe went to a small wood and had the presence of mind to threw away the murder weapon.
Meanwhile shocked members of the public had rushed to the victim's aid but the knife wounds were too severe to survive. One had penetrated to a depth of eight inches touching one of his vertebrae and his spleen and pancreas were cut causing extensive bleeding.