A killer with a long history of mental health issues has been brought to justice for randomly stabbing a “blameless” man to death 26 years ago.
Geoffrey Strike, now 75, stabbed Jason Comerford, 21, after a short row in a side street in Manchester in 1994.
A cold case review in 2018 using new technology found a DNA match to Strike, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Strike, who admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility was given an indefinite hospital order.
The court heard Strike, who had paranoia schizophrenia and had been drinking heavily, stabbed Mr Comerford in the throat with a lock knife in George Leigh Street, near to Great Ancoats Street, in Manchester.
Mr Comerford died in hospital hours later and a description of the offender, a man aged about 50 with grey hair and a scruffy appearance, was circulated.
The knife was recovered but only the DNA of the victim was found on the weapon.
‘Billion to one’
However, in 2018 scientific advancements led to a DNA match with the defendant, who lived nearby at the time of the killing.
The likelihood of it being from someone other than Strike – or unrelated to him – was about a billion to one, the court heard.
Prosecutor Jacob Hallam QC said the circumstances behind the attack remained unclear but said Mr Comerford, who had been on a night out, was entirely blameless.
He was described in court as a “quiet, thoughtful young man” who “never got into trouble”.
The court heard that from 1993 to 1995, including the time of the killing, Strike had little contact with mental health services, did not receive medication and was essentially “lost” in the system.
His offending escalated and he committed 14 offences involving offensive weapons or blades, culminating in March 1997 when he was arrested for attacking a police vehicle with a sword and threatening an officer.
He was jailed and transferred to psychiatric care, where he has remained since.
Defending Strike, Charles Garside QC said his client had “deep regret” for what he did.
But Mr Justice Hilliard said he may now never be released from a secure mental health unit.
Mr Comerford’s brother, Darren, attended court but his parents have died.
The judge said Mr Comerford’s life was “cut short by a dreadful act of violence” and his parents had died “without seeing anyone brought to justice for his death”.
He commended the police and scientists for the way they “did not give up or close the investigation”.