A son who, a court heard, stabbed his father to death in a “trivial” argument about broadband speed has been jailed for life.
Stephen Gallagher, 55, attacked 76-year-old Thomas multiple times with a knife, telling him to “die” as he pleaded for his life, Swansea Crown Court heard on Monday.
Gallagher then called 999 and confessed what had taken place to the phone operator, and went into “some detail”, prosecutor Mark Wyeth told the court..
“He stated that his father was indeed dead in the lounge. He stated his father had asked him to leave and he hadn’t wanted to leave,” he said.
“There is collateral evidence that referred to Mr Gallagher’s difficulties with drinking in the past and there had been a history of hostility by him towards his father.”
The murder took place at their home in Cwmbran, Monmouthshire, Wales, in September 2019.
Gallagher tried to call his ex-partner but instead spoke to his 18-year-old son, and told him he had killed his grandfather.
A postwoman who arrived at the house before emergency services saw Gallagher appearing calm and providing no suggestion about what had taken place.
“My father irritates me when he ignores me during arguments,” Gallagher told police.
“He stormed off into the lounge and slammed the door, so I rushed upstairs and got the knife, came down.
“He was on the phone to someone. I grabbed the phone off him, smashed the phone and then proceeded with the attack.
“I was stood in front of him, face to face, and I proceeded to use the knife.
“I thrust it into him, and the first blow was to the chest area. This caused him to fall back onto the sofa.
“I stood over him while stabbing him nine or 10 times at that stage. I could see he was in pain and I wanted to finish him, so I stabbed him again and said ‘die’.”
A postmortem found Thomas was stabbed more than a dozen times in the chest, back and neck.
Gallagher, who had pleaded guilty to murder at a previous hearing, may suffer from a type of “non-full diagnosed autism”, the court heard, with further examinations due.
Paul Lewis, defending, said: “What began as a trivial argument between father and son about the internet service in the house led to the tragic death of Thomas Gallagher and the conviction of his son for murder.
“It is clear there is a long history of depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and attempts of suicide.”
Judge Paul Thomas jailed Gallagher for life with a minimum of 13 years and four months in prison.
“Even on your own account you killed him that morning because, as was his right, he was asking you to leave the house,” the judge said.
“After an argument about broadband speed, instead of leaving or walking away, you purposefully went up to your room and you took a lock knife.
“You brought that lock knife downstairs to where your father was, with one intention and one intention alone, which was to stab him to death.”
He said Gallagher had attacked his father “with savagery and a total lack of any semblance of mercy towards him”.
The judge said it was “chilling” that even as the father “appealed to you by calling your name, asking you to stop what you were doing”, Gallagher showed “not one scintilla of mercy”.
The family released a tribute to Thomas after he died, saying he “was the beat of a big hearted family”.
“An incredibly hard working, talented, positive, selfless, creative, fit and fun man whose kindnesses were endless,” the statement said.
“A thoughtful and considerate man, he got great pleasure in helping people and making them happy – he always saw the good in everyone.”