A 26-YEAR-OLD man who viciously stabbed his cousin to death in a drunken argument in Brierley Hill has been jailed for life.

Glen Elvin showed no reaction as Judge James Burbidge QC told him he must stay behind bars for a minimum of 20 years before he can be considered for parole.

The judge said the tragedy was borne out of a set of facts all too common in the country at the moment with young men resorting to the use of knives over relatively minor issues.

It was something, he stressed at Wolverhampton Crown Court that left law abiding members of society wondering just why.

The judge told Elvin, a father-of-three, who killed Christopher Harm as they argued in Engine Lane after a drinking session at The Waterfront, that he had clearly taken what was a deadly weapon to the scene.

"One blow is all it took for one man to lose his life and another to get a life sentence," he told Elvin who with Mr Harm and two colleagues was working in the area putting up posters for a travelling circus.

Stourbridge News: Christopher Harm. Pic - West Midlands PoliceChristopher Harm. Pic - West Midlands Police

He said Elvin had not used the knife as a defensive weapon against 28-year-old Mr Harm - the father of a two year old son - adding: "You went on the attack with it."

The two men had been drinking heavily, said the Judge, and they had been involved in fights in the past as they were growing up in the North East.

It was not clear, he went on, whether Elvin feared a further attack from his cousin or if wanted to save face but he took the knife from the van in which all four men slept.

"You had the opportunity to avoid any further violence but you made the decision to escalate it," said the Judge because he then chased after Mr Harm in an incident caught on CCTV.

Elvin, of County Durham, had denied murdering his cousin but he was convicted on a unanimous verdict by a jury after they retired to consider the evidence at the end of his trial.

Michael Duck QC, prosecuting, had maintained Elvin had targeted his cousin after they argued and he had lashed out with the knife causing a wound that pierced his heart.

But in evidence Elvin who apologised for storming out of the court as the verdict was returned by the foreman of the jury said the death of Mr Harm had been an accident.

It had never been his intention to kill, he told the five man-seven woman jury. "It was a drunken fight that got out of control. I loved him and I will have to live with this for the rest of my life."

Elvin said he felt he was in for another beating at the hands of his cousin and he had grabbed the knife to get him to back off. "He kept stepping back but the last time he didn't move. I hit him. I never intended to make contact."

Mr Duck told the court the family of Mr Harm had described how their lives had been shattered by the death of a man who always had a smile.

Melissa Harm, the dead man's sister, said in a victim impact statement their lives had been change forever and no sentence would help ease their anguish and heartache.

The judge told Elvin he would only be 'released from custody when the parole board felt it was safe for him to return to society.