Two career criminals who stabbed an Argos shop worker to death as they raided his skunk cannabis factory in Upper Clapton, Hackney, have been jailed for life.

Hackney Gazette: Roul HesseRoul Hesse (Image: Archant)

James Sweeney, 30, was knifed eight times when he confronted a gang breaking into his flat in Lea View House, off Jessam Avenue, Upper Clapton.

Hackney Gazette: Jeremy Lewis.Jeremy Lewis. (Image: Archant)

One of the stab wounds to his stomach was so deep the tip of the blade buried itself into his backbone, the Old Bailey heard.

Jeremy Lewis, 29, and Raul Hesse, 23, carried out the raid on May 6 last year.

Lewis planned to open a rival cannabis production factory, after stealing equipment, plants and money from his competitor.

But the plan went awry after Mr Sweeney - who worked at the Clapton Argos branch - confronted them, and when he tried to defend himself with a knife he was overpowered and killed.

Montserratan-born Mr Sweeney, also known as Kenry, suffered injuries to his heart, liver and major blood vessels and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said: “They took nothing of value - all they took was his life, because he simply got in their way.

“They could not afford to be stopped by him or recognised by him, so in a struggle that took place in his own room they killed him.”

Hesse grinned in the dock while his partner-in-crime Lewis held his head in his hands as they were sentenced last Thursday.

Lewis and Hesse both admitted they took part in a plot to burgle the house but denied knifing their victim to death and blamed each other.

Sentencing Judge Christopher Moss said: “I did not believe for one moment either of your accounts given during the course of the trial,”

Lewis, of Collinson Court, Generals Walk, Enfield, and Hesse, of no fixed address, denied but were convicted of murder.

Both will serve minimum terms of 30 years, on top of concurrent sentences of five years for conspiracy to burgle.

Mr Sweeney’s family said in a statement they had lost a father, brother uncle and best friend.

“Words cannot describe the pain we bear from his passing and the brutal manner of his killing,” it read.

“James was so loving, so strong, so personable and humble. Everybody who knew him loved him.

“We, his mother, his cousins, his life partner, his best friends and his children, Kendrina and Dylan miss him so dearly; we are utterly broken by his murder.”