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Gypsy wedding murderer handed life sentence

16:42 31 May 2013

A Traveller who stabbed the bride’s brother to death at a gypsy wedding in The Glyn Arms pub in Homerton, Hackney, after years of “bad blood” between the two clans was jailed for at least 23 years.

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Martin ‘Marty’ Ward, 24, plunged a carving knife into Thomas ‘Tommy’ Lawrence’s torso four times, severing his aorta.

Mr Lawrence, 28, was left lying in the gutter after the attack outside the Glyn Arms, a popular watering hole for travellers in Mandeville Street, Homerton on October 27 2011.

The father-of-four received emergency surgery but could not be saved, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

The former binman of Abersham Road, Dalston, denied murder, insisting he “lost control” and was acting in self-defence, claiming it was an “obligation” to confront his rival or “repercussions would flow”.

Several witnesses including bar staff said Irish-born Ward, who is one of 11 children,

looked “scary” when he arrived at the traditional giving away ceremony the day following the wedding of Sharon Lawrence to a man also called Martin Ward, unconnected with the case.

Sentencing him to life for murder, Judge William Kennedy said: “You are a young man coming to terms with a culture where spontaneous violence often replaces reasoned argument and having to learn the boundaries of violence anticipated in those circumstances.

“On the other hand…. this was instead a series of deadly blows struck in fury and revenge against an unarmed and unsuspecting opponent.’

The jury failed to reach a verdict during the first trial in November, and a second trial collapsed last month when the prosecutor fell ill.

A third jury convicted Ward of murder by a majority verdict of 10-2.

Ward, who left school illiterate aged 10 was jailed for four years for being part of a gang believed to be responsible for almost half of Britain’s caravan thefts from 2004 to 2007.

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