A teenage boy stabbed a man to death after a row erupted over “a minor disagreement” at a social event at a flat.

Jordan Rance was just 16-years-old when he arrived at a house on Samuel Street, Atherton, in November last year, apparently intending to deliver drugs on someone else’s behalf.

Minshull Street Crown Court heard how 49-year-old Paul Marsh had been staying over at the house and was one of several people to have gathered there.

Prosecutor Michael Hayton KC said: “Also present and somewhat out of kilter with the ages of the other attendees was this defendant and another youth.”

The Bolton News: Jordan RanceJordan Rance

Mr Hayton told the court how tension was already in the air between Rance, now 17, and Mr Marsh after previous meetings and that this reached boiling point on November 17.

As further tension set in Mr Marsh began “touching and prodding” Rance, trying to look at the boy’s phone.

Mr Hayton said: “But as the squabble, as it was, continued it would end up with both men jumping up to their feet and squaring off with each other.”

The Bolton News: The case was heard at Minshull Street Crown CourtThe case was heard at Minshull Street Crown Court (Image: Newsquest)

In the ensuing struggle Rance pulled out a knife and stabbed Mr Marsh to the shoulder and fled the scene.

Mr Hayton said: “The crown submit that this knife was brought to the scene by Mr Rance as part of his drug dealing kit.”

Despite the best efforts of other people at that flat and paramedics, Mr Marsh died of his injuries soon afterwards.

The Bolton News: Police were called to the scene on Samuel Street, AthertonPolice were called to the scene on Samuel Street, Atherton (Image: Newsquest)

Rance, of Platt Hill Avenue, Deane, was arrested shortly after and claimed to police that he had found the knife at the scene and had been defending himself from Mr Marsh.

But Mr Hayton said that just months before the murder, Rance had been involved in a vicious group attack on another group of young men in Victoria Square, just in front of Bolton Town Hall.

Rance had been key to instigating the attack on February 26 last year in which a 16-year-old boy was kicked unconscious and another was stabbed in the back, the court was told.

Brought before Manchester Magistrates Court, Rance pleaded guilty to attempted grievous bodily harm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He also admitted to possession of a knife and to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The teenager was still on bail for these offences when he killed Mr Marsh.

After Mr Marsh’s death, the court heard how Rance then tried to evade justice by making several phone calls.

Mr Hayton said: “He told family members to go to Samuel Street and ‘cancel the witnesses.’”

He said that Rance then later called again to ask if this had been done but that there was no evidence that anything was actually done to interfere with the witnesses.

Rance, who has eight previous convictions for 11 offences, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

After a trial earlier this year he was found guilty by a jury of murdering Mr Marsh.

The court listened on in silence as Mr Hayton read a moving victim impact statement from Mr Marsh’s mother Carol Ann Smith.

The statement described Mr Marsh as “a character who was loved by many, endured by others but whatever the circumstances of meeting Paul it was an experience you would not forget.”

Ms Smith’s statement said: “The loss of my son has left me in limbo.

“When a child loses their parents they are an orphan, when a wife loses her husband she is a widow, what am I called now?”

She added: “When is this pandemic called knife crime ever going to stop?

“How many more lives are going to be lost before the young people of today understand the consequences of carrying knives?”

Benjamin Myers KC, defending, said that Rance now understood the “enormity” of his actions.

He said: “He understands that enormity and he apologises.”

He added: “He does recognise that he is responsible for the loss of life here and he is sorry for that.”

Mr Myers also said that the court could not be sure that Rance had brought the knife with him to the Samuel Street flat, as Mr Hayton had said he had.

He said that there were “many weapons and potential weapons” at the flat.

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Judge Tina Landale accepted that Rance had not gone out to kill that day but reminded him of the devastating impact of his attack on Mr Marsh.

Addressing the teenage defendant directly, she said: “You stabbed him over a minor disagreement.”

She added: “I am satisfied that you came to the flat armed with the knife.”

Judge Landale said that the knife was one of Rance’s “tools of his trade” as a drug dealer, while she also noted a voice note Rance had recorded which seemed to “boast” about his actions.

She sentenced Rance to Detention at His Majesty’s Pleasure, the equivalent of a life sentence, with a minimum term of 21 years.