A FORMER squaddie was jailed for life for the school run murder of a Wirral dad.
Steven Branscombe showed no emotion as a Liverpool Crown Court jury took little more than an hour to unanimously convict him of murdering Bebington chef Marc Clarke, 42, in January.
During the two week trial the jury heard how Branscombe, also 42, knifed dad-of-four Mr Clarke twice in an “explosive fit of rage”.
The pair had fallen out some 10 years ago over the quality of cocaine Mr Clarke had sold to his eventual killer – a man with a “shocking temper” and a history of violence, the court was told.
Branscombe, of Boswell Road, Birkenhead, claimed that for the next decade he was the victim of attacks, threats and acts of intimidation by 6ft 6in well-built Mr Clarke that built up until he “snapped” on the fateful afternoon of Friday, January 27.
He had admitted the killing but denied murder claiming he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and “loss of control”.
But Judge Clement Goldstone QC rejected Branscombe’s claims and told him: “The jury have seen through you.”
He said the murder was carried out with “ferocious single-minded determination” by “a man on a mission”.
The fatal attack took place at around 3pm on Teehey Lane, Bebington, the court heard, when Branscombe – a dad-of-two – saw Mr Clarke driving along.
He swerved his Peugeot into the victim’s Mercedes and then stabbed him twice with a six-inch kitchen knife he kept in his car.
Scores of stunned witnesses – many on their way to or from picking their children up from school – watched on in horror as the attack took place then Branscombe got back in his car and drove away “as if nothing had happened”, the judge said.
Branscombe claimed that Mr Clarke, described by his widow Louise as a “sweet, gentle giant”, had beaten him up outside a pub and was behind attacks on his car and home.
But Judge Goldstone told him: “I am quite prepared to accept he was involved in beating you up and there may have been other incidents but not of the frequency or magnitude you have sought to convey to the court.
“You are a man quite capable of making other enemies.”
Branscombe was told he will serve at least 23 years behind bars before he can even be considered for release.
After the killer was led from the dock down to the cells, Judge Goldstone said: “I cannot leave this case without paying tribute to the way Mr Clarke’s family and the family of the defendant have conducted themselves throughout this trial. They all, in different ways, have huge losses to bear for this is a case in which there can be and are no winners.”