A RECLUSIVE giant who murdered his only friend at a New Year's Eve party will not be released until at least 2014.

Gareth Horton stabbed ex-colleague Charlotte Flanagan, of Melville Gardens, Darwen, after a vicars and tarts party in the London pub where she worked.

The ex-social worker, who is 6ft 8ins tall, was convicted of murder at The Old Bailey and sentenced to life in jail in October 2002.

Horton, of Walmsley Street, Darwen, had developed an obsession with Miss Flanagan who had formed a relationship with a man since moving to London from Darwen, London's Royal Courts of Justice heard.

Mr Justice Mackay set the tariff on Horton's life sentence - the minimum amount of time he must spend behind bars before he can apply for parole - at 12 years.

He will have no chance of release before the spring of 2014.

Charlotte went to St Cuthbert's Primary School, Darwen, and St Wilfrid's High School, Blackburn, and also worked as a mentor for the Trinity Partnership in Clitheroe.

She met Horton while working for social services at Blackburn with Darwen Council.

The judge told the court Horton, now 33, followed his victim up to her room on the first floor of the pub and left her dead, with a large knife he had taken from the pub kitchen sticking through her neck.

He said: "A defence psychiatrist described his difficulties at school stemming form his excessive height and low self-esteeem, which had caused him to be bullied, to underachieve academically and to become a loner.

"He had suffered from chronic low mood and clinical depression," said the judge.

"He had a life-long personality problem in the form of his inability to interact with other humans and form normal relationships.

"His relationship with the deceased would seem to be the only real friendship he had formed in his life. He may have been disturbed as opposed to sexually jealous when he heard that she was forming an attachment to another young man that would leave less room in her life for him."

Even after Horton has served his 12-year tariff he will only be released if he can convince the parole board he no longer poses a danger. Even then, he will remain on "life licence", subject to recall to prison should he put a foot wrong.