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Sunday, 11 December 2011
The family of a man stabbed to death by one of his closest friends said they may never know the motive for the murder.
Frank Donnelly, 34, of Lower Hazel Close, Blackburn was sentenced to life, with a minimum of 25 years, at Preston Crown Court on the 17th September 2010 for the murder of David McGee, 42, of Grindleton Road.
Donnelly had changed his plea to guilty part-way through his trial.
Speaking after the verdict, Mr McGee's brother Gordon, sister Debbie Barker, partner Michelle Barnes and carer Deborah Winstanley said the victim had 'trusted people too much'.
Gordon, 43, who has moved back from Cornwall to Gisburn to be closer to sister Debbie, said: “He was known as 'smiler' and was a very trusting person. He didnt see the bad in anyone.
“David had an absolutely horrific childhood and never really coped with it.
"He was in foster care and was always a victim and that led him to his life of drink.
“He was a very intelligent man with a passion for gardening and photography.
"But he was traumatised by his childhood and that was at the root of his issues with drink.”
Victim David McGee.
The McGee family grew up in Bacup then moved to Water, where David McGee went to the local primary school, before moving away to Altrincham, Cheshire.
Mr McGee's alcohol addiction meant he needed a carer, but Mrs Winstanley said in the last few years he had 'got himself back together' and was 'seeing something of a future'.
Mr McGee's daughter Amy, 13, is cared for by sister Debbie, but she fears they may never know why Donnelly turned on his friend.
Debbie, of Stacksteads, said: “We will probably never get an answer.
"Maybe Donnelly just took is anger out on the first person he came across.”
The court heard that Donnelly had been given a six year jail sentence in 2001 after stabbing an innocent man who intervened in a row between the defendant and a group of men.
Judge Anthony Russell QC, the Recorder of Preston, pointed out the similarities to the 'catalyst' for this case, when Donnelly had returned to what the prosecution described as a 'doss house' in Grindleton Road, looking for a fight with a group of young Asian males.
Instead he 'transferred his anger' to Mr McGee, in an 'out-of-control' and savage attack, while the victim was asleep, drunk, in a dark upstairs bedroom.
Judge Russell said: “The reality is David McGee had no chance.”
Peter Wright QC, for Donnelly, told the court his client had descended into a spiral of drink dependency and alcohol-fuelled misconduct and violence.