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Father and son jailed for 'needless death' following Cippenham pub fight

A 36-year-old man who murdered a ‘devoted and adoring father’ by stabbing him repeatedly in a brutal brawl in a Cippenham pub has been handed a life sentence.

On May 9 last year, Jason Gardner was stabbed 41 times at the Earl of Cornwall Pub in Cippenham Lane by Charlie Ward, of Eltham Avenue.

Mr Ward’s father, John Ward, 58, of Stoke Road, held the deceased in a headlock during the attack, pulled him back inside as he tried to make a break from the pub, kicked and stamped on him as he lay bleeding on the floor, and threw a table leg at him after breaking off a table with his bare hands.

Charlie Ward was found guilty of murder and possession of an offensive weapon by a jury at Reading Crown Court yesterday (Monday) after a trial which started on November 26 while John Ward was found not guilty of murder but was convicted of manslaughter.

Charlie Ward was sentenced today to life in prison with a minimum term of 22 years and given a two year sentence, which will run concurrently, for possessing the knife.

His father was jailed for nine years for his role in the father-of-two’s death.

The trial heard how Mr Gardner had plotted an attack in retaliation to Charlie Ward throwing a pint at his girlfriend Emma Mead earlier that night at the Long Barn pub, Cippenham Lane, for refusing to serve him and his wife Martina Ward.

Judge Angela Morris accepted the prosecution’s case that during the initial confrontation, which did not result in violence, Charlie Ward pulled out a knife and produced it again while having a conversation with Mr Gardner outside the Long Barn pub and threatened to ‘slash’ Emma Mead’s face.

The court heard how this angered Mr Gardner, who plotted an attack on Charlie Ward, enlisting the help of a friend to track him down to the Earl of Cornwall pub, taping over his van’s registration plate and storming into the pub wearing a balaclava and hitting his target on the head with a metal torch.

Charlie Ward reached for his Stanley knife, charged into the assailant and began stabbing him, the court was told.

Judge Angela Morris said: “It’s clear from the impact statements I’ve read that Jason Gardner was an enormous presence in the lives of his mother and father and a devoted and adoring father to his daughters.

“There’s nothing at all this court can say which will help those who loved him to feel that loss any less.”

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Andy Shearwood, of Thames Valley Police’s major crime unit said: “The tragic outcome of this incident resulted in the needless death of Jason Gardner.

“This was a horrific incident and was a completely unnecessary use of violence.

“Although their defence was that their actions were self-defence, our belief was always that this altercation went far beyond that.

“Carrying weapons can clearly lead to far-reaching and tragic consequences as this case has highlighted.”

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