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Man sentenced to life for the murder of Haywards Heath man

News   •   Oct 03, 2019 15:22 BST

A man has been sentenced for the murder of James "Jimmy" Fitzgerald.

Craig Ghochani, 29, has found guilty by a jury at Lewes Crown Court on Monday (September 30).

Sussex Police launched a murder investigation on Friday, December 21 following a fatal stabbing in Haywards Heath.

Jimmy, 29, had been on his bike along Barn Cottage Lane at the junction of Bentswood Crescent around 8.20pm when he was assaulted. He was taken to hospital but while he was on route, sadly Jimmy died.

Officers conducted a number of enquiries and a total of five arrests were conducted in connection with the murder investigation, three of which were later released without any further action.

Ghochani, unemployed of Barn Cottage Lane, and James Creaghan, 28, of not fixed address, were both charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

The pair pleaded not guilty to both charges and stood trial at Lewes Crown Court, which concluded on Monday (September 30).

Creaghan was acquitted by the jury on both charges but Ghochani found guilty for both offences.

Ghochani was sentenced by HH Judge Laing to life with a minimum of 22 years and will remain on licence for life and a further six-month custodial sentence to run concurrently for the possession of a bladed article.

(The knife was discovered in a nearby pub carpark.)

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Emma Heater said: “We welcome the result given to Ghochani by the courts. We understand it has been a difficult time for Jimmy’s family and friends and hope this goes some way to providing closure for all those involved.

“This was an emotional trial and we would like to praise the bravery of the witnesses who continued to assist the prosecution and played a large part in our investigation.

“This should be a stark warning to anyone who carries or is thinking about carrying a knife, don’t. Regardless of the size of the blade, using it can have a devastating impact on not just the victim and defendant, but their family, friends and the wider community.”

The family of Jimmy issued the following statement: “No amount of justice can ever bring back our Jimmy. The piece of us all that we lost that day simply cannot be replaced. He really was one in a million.

“The last two weeks of this trial have taken a lot out of all of us, including the defendants and their families. This tragic event has affected everyone, divided families and friendships and changed lives. We must now take a stand against knife crime.

“We would also like to say thank you to Sussex Police, in particular, the liaison service provided, which has been a constant comfort to us during this difficult time.”