A ‘cowardly’ knifeman who murdered a homeless man in a fight outside a betting shop in Exeter has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years.

Care leaver Brian Jewell used a £10 camping knife which he had bought the previous day to kill 45-year-old Stephen Cook with a single stab wound that punctured his heart and led to him bleeding to death.

A friend lent the dying man his mobile phone and he made a final phone call to his daughter Danni before he lost consciousness.

She stood in the witness box at Exeter Crown Court to read personal statement which told of the pain which Mr Cook’s death has caused his family.

Addressing Jewell in the dock, she said: “The grief is indescribable and will stay with me forever because I will never see Dad again. The first thing I see in my mind when I wake up is Dad bleeding to death. You took a loving person from this world.

“He was the kindest man I ever knew. He put everyone before himself and would have done anything for anyone. Every time I look in the mirror I have a reminder that I have lost a piece of myself.

“He did not deserve to die. He was a good man. You stole his live and deprived me of a relationship with my Dad forever. He was my Number One fan. You have taken that away.

“You are a coward. You have taken no responsibility for what you have done. I don’t hate you for what you have done but it confuses me to think why you did it.”

Jewell was 19 when he stabbed Mr Cook at 8.10 pm on Saturday January 28 this year after a street fight outside the Betfred shop in Sidwell Street.

Mr Cook had slashed his face with a broken bottle, chipping a tooth and causing a gash that needed 23 stitches to repair. Jewell opened a lock knife inside his pocket and then pulled it out.

Digitally enhanced CCTV footage showed the moments in which he delivered a single sweeping blow into Mr Cook’s body. The wound penetrated the full length of the  8.5 centimetre shaft and cut into the heart.

Mr Cook did not realise he had been stabbed and could be seen on the footage to notice a cut in his clothing and then lift his top to reveal blood flowing from his chest.

He staggered into the Betfred shop and collapsed on the floor, retaining consciousness just long enough to make the farewell call to his student daughter. on a borrowed mobile phone.

Jewell was a care leaver who had become homeless after choosing to move out of sheltered accommodation provided by the council and was living rough in a tented encampment in woodland on the banks of the River Exe near St David’s station.

He and a friend had been seen on CCTV running out of Marks and Spencer’s food hall with two shoplifted bottles of vodka just minutes before the killing.

He claimed he feared for his life and acted in self-defence but the jury found him guilty at a trial in August.

Jewell, now aged 20, whose last permanent address was Verney Street, Exeter, was found guilty of murder. He also admitted stabbing his own father Daniel in the head and back in May 2022 and headbutting an officer at Exeter Prison 11 days after the murder.

He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 20 years by Mr Justice Saini, who said he would not be considered for parole until the 20 year term had been served and only released if considered no longer a danger to the public.

He told him: “I have read moving VPSs from Mr Cook’s wife, Jacqui, and from his mother, Margaret. His daughter, Danni Cook, bravely read her VPS to me in court this morning.

“Mr Cook was a husband, son and father who will be sorely missed and who was deeply loved. Although he had a troubled life in certain respects, he brought light to the lives of his family members. Their loss cannot be reduced to words.

“You had a knife in your pocket. It was 8.5 cm long and had a locking mechanism. You opened it while it was concealed in your pocket. During the fight, you stabbed Mr Cook  once with the knife.”

The Judge said he had reduced the minimum term from 25 years because Jewell had no intent to kill, the attack was not pre-meditated, there had been considerable provocation, the stabbing was excessive self-defence, Jewell’s age, his troubled background in care and his remorse.

During the trial Miss Jo Martin, KC, prosecuting, said Mr Cook died from loss of blood within an hour of being stabbed at 8.10 pm on Saturday January 28 this year.

She said both him and Jewell were street homeless and Mr Cook had been drinking  before the fight and was two times over the drink drive limit and had traces of cannabis, cocaine and the heroin substitute methadone in his system.

Jewell had got an older friend to buy the Opinel No 8 knife from Taunton Leisure the previous day. He had been wandering around Exeter with a friend in the hours before the attack, at one point apparently trying to sell two shoplifted bottles of vodka.

Miss Martin said the slowed down and enhanced footage of the fatal fight showed Jewell putting one hand into the pocket where the knife was and the other on the outside helping to open  and lock it.

She said: “As Mr Cook went to hit him, Jewell can be seen to take his arm back and with the knife in his hand, bring it forward in a sweeping motion towards Mr Cook. There was no warning by Jewell to Mr Cook to back off because he had a knife.

“He simply lashed out with it, going forward to stab Mr Cook.”

Mr Sean Brunton, KC, defending, said the killing had been a tragedy for everyone involved. He said Jewell has been left with nothing in his life and that his ager issues arose from a childhood of neglect which led him into the care system.

He said: He regrets the outcome. It was a spontaneous outburst in very trying circumstances. It is a tragedy for Mr Cook’s family and leaves Brian Jewell utterly alone in the world. The length of any sentence is not going to make the tragedy go away for anyone.”