Killer fails in appeal against his sentence

A MURDERER who stabbed his teenage victim through the heart following a fracas in a pub has failed in an Appeal Court bid to clear his name.

Adam Skilton killed 17-year-old Jacob Woudstra, a student, by stabbing him twice in The Shah pub, in Mount Pleasant Road, Hastings, after a skirmish involving Jacob’s older brother, Levi Woudstra.

Skilton, 43, of Wilton Road, Bexhill, was jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 26 years behind bars at Lewes Crown Court in October 2012, after being found guilty of murder and perverting the course of justice.

He challenged his conviction on Monday (January 20) at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was ‘unsafe’ because the trial judge misdirected the jury.

But his appeal was dismissed by three judges, who said the conviction was ‘safe’ and that the judge’s directions did not lead the jury to reach the wrong verdict.

The judges also rejected a challenge to Skilton’s 26-year tariff, saying it was ‘not excessive’ in light of the fact he had gone to the pub armed with a knife and had tried to influence a witness.

The court heard Levi Woudstra had gone to The Shah pub at about 3pm on April 5, 2012 and became involved in an angry confrontation with Skilton - who set upon him and pulled a knife from his coat, threatening to ‘smear him up’.

Levi, 20, fled from the pub and went to his home nearby, where he met his brother, Jacob.

The pair returned to the pub, with Levi taking a weights bar and Jacob carrying a broken golf club - described by the trial judge as ‘a flimsy child’s toy’.

There was another skirmish, during which Skilton stabbed Jacob in the chest, and he chased the brothers out into the pub’s beer garden.

Skilton then stabbed Jacob a second time, as he tried to escape by climbing over the garden’s wall.

The brothers managed to get back home and Levi called an ambulance, but the first stab wound - which pierced Jacob’s heart - proved fatal. Skilton and another man both made phone calls, telling a witness not to mention his name to police.

Levi was jailed for six months, after he admitted affray and having an offensive weapon.

Skilton’s lawyers argued his conviction should be overturned, saying there was evidence which would have supported his case - that he was acting in self-defence and suffered a loss of control - which was not summarised by the trial judge. But, dismissing his appeal, Lord Justice Jackson said the issue had been ‘laid to rest’ following Skilton’s cross-examination and the jury was properly directed by the judge.

The Appeal Court also dismissed a challenge to Skilton’s minimum sentence, saying the crown court judge was entitled to pass the term he did.

Lord Justice Jackson said: “The judge was fully entitled to conclude Skilton had armed himself with a knife and was acting as an enforcer.”