Man who stabbed Tyson Fury's cousin to death in brawl is jailed for life

A man has been jailed for life for the knife murder of the cousin of world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury during a brawl outside a bar.

Liam O’Pray, 22, used a lock-knife with a seven-inch blade to stab Rico Burton, 31, in the neck, almost severing his major carotid artery and causing massive blood loss.

The defendant, from Swinton, Salford, Greater Manchester, was found guilty of murder by a jury following a three-week trial last month at Manchester Crown Court, and on Friday was told he must serve a minimum of 28 years before parole.

He already had a conviction for carrying a knife in public before the murder.
Mr Burton’s death prompted his boxing champion cousin to post an impassioned plea on social media about knife crime, declaring that ‘this needs to stop’.

In his Instagram post, Fury said: ‘Life is very precious and it can be taken away very quick enjoy every moment… RIP Rico Burton may the lord God grant you a good place in heaven. see you soon.’

O’Pray was also found guilty of wounding with intent by slashing and stabbing Harvey Reilly, 17 at the time and now 18, during the same incident in the early hours of Sunday August 22 last year.

Police at the scene were ‘instrumental’ in saving the life of Mr Reilly, but the injuries to Mr Burton, a father-of-one, were so severe he died shortly after in hospital.

Drunk, on drugs, with a sense of entitlement, causing trouble while carrying a knife, was ‘standard behaviour’ for O’Pray, the court heard.

Jailing him for the mandatory life sentence for murder, Judge Alan Conrad KC ordered that the father-of-one serve a minimum of 28 years before parole.

He told the defendant: ‘You were a stabbing waiting to happen.

‘Yet again this court has to deal with the death, injury and devastation as a result of a knife being taken out.

‘You can blame all manner of things but the fact is you, and others like you who chose to carry knives, that’s the problem.’

The trial was told trouble began after a fight between the defendant’s friends and Mr Burton’s family and friends at Goose Green, a courtyard of bars in Altrincham, Cheshire.

O’Pray had been in one of the bars earlier that evening but was refused entry, later telling the doorman he would be back and ’cause him an issue’.

A second bar next door also refused him entry, with door staff and witnesses describing the defendant as a ‘loose cannon’ and ‘very erratic’ and causing a nuisance to others.

At just gone 3am, a witness said “absolute chaos” broke out as O’Pray’s friend Malachi Hewitt-Brown was punched by Mr Burton’s cousin, Chasiah Burton.

Mr Burton also then aimed a punch at him.

A second later, O’Pray stuck the fatal blow with the knife to the left side of Rico Burton’s neck.

Mr Reilly then went for the defendant and was slashed twice by him, once to the arm and once to the abdomen.

The entire incident lasted less than two seconds.

People went to help Mr Burton, who was struggling to breathe and holding his neck before he fell to the floor.

He went into cardiac arrest and was declared dead in hospital at 4.35am.

A 2cm cut was found to his neck, which was 6cm deep, almost completely dividing his left carotid artery, causing the fatal massive haemorrhage, a post-mortem examination found.

Mr Reilly suffered a 14cm gaping wound to his chest wall, exposing his ribs, and large wound to his left arm.

Cannabis, cocaine and ketamine were found in the defendant’s blood stream, tests later showed, and he had three wraps of cocaine on him when arrested shortly after the incident.

Michael Brady KC, prosecuting, told the jury it was ‘standard’ behaviour for O’Pray to go out drinking, causing trouble while armed with a knife.

O’Pray told the jury he was ‘not a violent person’ and carried the knife ‘to defend myself’.

He had admitted possession of a knife in a public place and possession of cocaine.

Mother-of-five Deborah Burton, the mother of Rico Burton, described as her ‘Golden Boy’, said in a victim impact statement read in court: ‘Throughout the whole traveller community Rico will never be forgotten.

‘On the day he died, a piece of me died inside. I have had my heart ripped out and cut into pieces.’

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