A TEENAGER from North Yorkshire has been sentenced to life imprisonment to serve a minimum of 11 years for murdering his friend.

Although 17-year-old Dylan Cranfield he had already pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 17-year-old Seb Mitchell, prosecutors believed his actions on the night Seb was stabbed to be murder.

Seb died in hospital on February 21 after being stabbed through the heart during an incident at a house on Claro Road, Harrogate.

A jury found Cranfield, of Claro Road, Harrogate, guilty of murder on August 25 following a nine-day trial at Leeds Crown Court, following which, the judge lifted reporting restrictions to allow the defendant to be named.

A group of friends had been drinking and socialising on the evening of Saturday, February 18 when an argument broke out between Seb and Cranfield, who was 16 at the time.

An altercation then ensued, which led to glass being smashed in the kitchen area of the property. The argument continued and resulted in Cranfield taking a large kitchen knife from a nearby knife block and fatally stabbing Seb.

Cranfield was arrested at the address following initial enquiries by attending officers, and in the days that followed he was charged with attempted murder. Tragically, despite the significant efforts of medical staff, Seb died in hospital on February 21, a week before his 18th birthday.  Cranfield was subsequently charged with murder.

During the sentencing hearing at Leeds Crown Court on Monday (December 4), the court heard victim personal statements read out by members of Seb's family describing him as a beautiful soul who was loved by many. A Seb-shaped hole had been left in their hearts. 

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox, of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Investigation Team, said: “This case was an absolute tragedy. The life of a young man has been needlessly taken in circumstances which escalated as a result of the defendant arming himself with a lethal weapon in retribution for causing a very small amount of damage.

“No sentence can bring back a young person, who had such a bright future ahead of him and so much to look forward to in life. 

“The defendant’s actions in resorting to the use of a knife, have been catastrophic, taking Seb’s life and changing beyond recognition the lives of his family, friends and loved ones.  

“There are no words that can sum up the devastation caused by young people who think nothing of picking up a knife or other weapon and using it. I hope that the outcome of this case sends a very clear message to anyone who may consider possessing a knife that no good can come from such action.

“Our thoughts remain very much with Seb’s family and friends. We hope that the conclusion of the proceedings brings a semblance of closure for them at such a difficult time.”

York Press: Seb MitchellSeb Mitchell (Image: North Yorkshire Police)
Seb's eldest brother, Jack, issued a statement on behalf of their family.

He said: "First of all, we would like to thank the emergency services in Harrogate and Leeds for their tireless work in trying to save Seb's life.

"We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to the police and the legal team representing Seb for all they have done for us.

"They sensitively guided and supported us through a trauma we never, ever, thought would happen to us.

"No amount of justice will ever compensate for the loss of Seb.

"He was an utterly beautiful soul who filled all of our lives with laughter and treated everyone he met with love and kindness. The chasm in our lives from his loss will never be filled. 

"I urge anybody listening to this who carries a knife or thinks it is acceptable to pick up a knife in anger to think again. 

"All it takes is one knife. One moment. One stab. And suddenly you are a killer. You are a killer.

"Your life is over and you have destroyed so many lives. Could you live with yourself?

"Could you do this to another family?

"Put down the knife and save someone's life.  Don't let what happened to Seb happen again. 

"We love you so much Seb and we will never ever forget you."

Cranfield must serve a minimum term of 11 years less 284 days already spent in prison before he will be considered for parole and released on licence. 

Following the sentencing hearing, Judge Guy Kearl KC, commended North Yorkshire Police's Family Liaison Officer, Julie Carter.