Murderer receives jail sentence

A HOMELESS drifter who murdered his friend during a row at an Eastbourne town centre flat has been jailed for 18 years.

Mark Watson, showed no emotion as he was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing Alexandre Sokolnikov with a recommendation he serve 18 years before being considered for release.

Judge Richard Brown told Watson on Friday, Febryary 3, “You have a record of violent behaviour and it is not the first time you have used a knife. The manner of the attack leaves me in no doubt you intended to kill your victim.

“I do not believe you were provoked and your attempts to lie your way out of this during the trial indicates you have no remorse.”

Watson was found guilty of stabbing 39-year-old Mr Sokolnikov after a trial at Lewes Crown Court last month.

Mr Sokolnikov, known as Russian Alex, died of a single stab wound to the heart on the night of February 21.

Watson and Mr Sokolnikov had been friends for some weeks after meeting at the Salvation Army Rebourne Corner in Langney Road and Oasis Christian Outreach Project in Seaside.

They had been at the flat of Leah Gar when a row broke out between them.Watson, 49 and an alcoholic, had been in a relationship with Miss Gar but it had broken up because of his heavy drinking and abusive behaviour.

Mr Sokolnikov had been staying with Miss Gar and on the night of the murder Watson had turned up hoping to kick start the romance again.

Watson attacked Mr Sokolnikov with a knife from the kitchen and the Russian man staggered outside into the street before collapsing on the pavement. Police and ambulance services were called and Mr Sokolnikov was given urgent medical attention and taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital, but sadly died an hour later as a result of a single stab wound to his heart.

Watson was found inside the property with serious head injuries. He was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital for treatment and placed under police guard.

He was charged two days later and remanded into custody.

During his trial Watson claimed he had armed himself with a knife for self defence and to avoid a fight but the jury of six men and six women returned a majority verdict of murder.

After the sentencing Detective Chief Inspector Nick May who lead the investigation said, “I am pleased that justice has been served against this dangerous man. He has shown no remorse or concern for the consequences of his actions throughout his trial and refused to take responsibility for the death of Alexandre Sokolnikov.

“Watson was a spiteful and jealous man and had little regard for the value of his victim’s life.

“Although originally from Russia, Mr Sokolnikov came to the UK over ten years ago and worked on and off in Eastbourne but sadly it would appear his life took a turn for the worse and he found himself living on the streets of Eastbourne where he unfortunately met Watson.

“Our condolences are very much with Alexandre’s family in Siberia. He leaves behind a 20-year-daughter and elderly mother, who sadly were unable to afford to come to the UK to witness Watson’s trial. However, detectives have been in contact with the family throughout the investigation and trial and I know that they have very much appreciated the regular updates.”

On Friday afternoon Sussex Police released a statement from Mr Sokolnikov’s family.

They said, “Alexandre was a much loved father and son, who went to live in the UK to make a better life for himself and family. We are so very sad that his life ended in this way but are pleased that justice has been served. We would like to thank Sussex Police for their help and support in getting justice for Alexandre. He will be sorely missed.”

DCI May paid tribute to Miss Gar who was a witness for the prosecution and gave evidence from behind a screen so she did not have to confront her ex-lover.

DCI May said, “I would like to thank our key witness who showed immense courage in taking the stand and testifying against Watson.”