Jail for Lancashire love rival who stabbed cage fighter to death after he lost a wrestling 'play fight'
A love rival stabbed to death a professional cage fighter whose pride was hurt when he lost a wrestling 'play fight'.
Both Dylan Slater, 26, and his victim Tarro "Taz" Grogan, 29, picked up knives after the encounter escalated amid a background of animosity between the pair who had children by the same woman, Preston Crown Court heard.
The defendant pulled a flick-knife from his pocket while fearing that Mr Grogan would take retribution for being embarrassed in front of friends at a house gathering in Blackburn, Lancashire.
In response, Mr Grogan picked up a knife from a kitchen worktop and then Slater armed himself with a larger kitchen knife which he used to inflict four significant stab wounds including a fatal "full thrust" to the front of Mr Grogan's chest.
Mr Grogan also received a number of slash wounds consistent with defensive injuries while Slater was unhurt in the confrontation.
Jailing Slater on Monday for eight years and three months, the Honorary Recorder of Preston Judge Mark Brown said: "Tragically this case is yet another example of the devastating consequences of knife crime.
"It highlights the spiralling nature of violence that knife crime creates and whatever the background or circumstances it can never be justified."
Slater was due to stand trial on a charge of murder but the Crown accepted his guilty plea to manslaughter.
The defendant had been in a nine-year relationship with Natasha Scott and had two children with her, while Mr Grogan had a more recent short-lived relationship with Ms Scott and had one child with her, the court was told.
Weeks before his death the victim had struck Slater with an iron after he had spat in a woman's face, prosecutor Francis McEntee said.
This led to Slater feeling he needed to carry a knife for his own protection from the mixed martial arts enthusiast who the court heard was someone who could be "violent and intemperate" and "somebody to be feared".
In the early hours of October 14, Slater visited a friend's house in Peridot Close but did not know that Mr Grogan was due to turn up later.
Mr McEntree said both men had been drinking vodka throughout the night and each had used cocaine.
In what was a regular pursuit in their circle of friends, both later "faced off" in the living room against each other in a supposed play fight where the loser would "tap out" in submission.
When Mr Grogan lost he demanded a rematch or a real fight and angrily followed Slater into the kitchen despite efforts to calm him down, Mr McEntee said.
Slater left the scene after the stabbing and went to Ms Scott's address where he concealed the large kitchen knife before later confessing to police where it was hidden.
Slater also told detectives he acted in self defence and that Mr Grogan had slept with his girlfriend while he was in prison.
Judge Brown told the defendant that it was he who was the first to produce a knife which "escalated the stakes considerably".
He added he was satisfied that Slater initially acted in self defence but had then gone too far in anger and the background of ill feelings "got the better of you".
The court heard that Slater had 11 previous convictions and had been jailed for 16 months after punching a man and breaking his jaw in July 2015.
John Jones QC, defending, said Slater was remorseful and had shown his regret at the time of the incident and following his arrest, and had also asked for an ambulance to be called to the address shortly after the attack.
Following sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Zoe Russo, of Lancashire Police, said: "My thoughts remain with Tarro Grogan's family and friends at this time. I would like to thank them for the way they have conducted themselves with dignity throughout these proceedings.
"This case shows with all too sad a clarity the devastating consequences which can result from using and carrying a knife."
In a statement, Mr Grogan's family said: "The day that Taz was taken from the family was the day our family lost its heart. We are glad the evil thug that ripped our family apart has finally been sentenced, but no amount of time given will bring Taz back."