A MAN who killed love rival Tarro ‘Taz’ Grogan after a play fight turned nasty has been jailed for eight years and three months.

The father-of-two, 29, was fatally wounded by knife-wielding Dylan Mark Slater in a violent confrontation at a house party in Peridot Close, Blackburn, last October, Preston Crown Court heard.

Prosecuting Francis McEntee said Mr Grogan had assaulted Slater, of no fixed address, twice in the weeks leading up to the victim’s death.

Mr McEntee said Mr Grogan only went to the party to comfort householder Dylan Byrne, who was depressed. When Mr Grogan arrived and was told Slater was present he assured Mr Byrne there would be no trouble.

Later both Slater and Mr Grogan drank vodka and took cocaine before engaging in a play fight.

Slater had beaten Mr Grogan in the scuffle, in which the loser had to ‘tap out’, the court heard.

Afterwards Mr Grogan, despite Mr Byrne trying to intervene, wanted a rematch or a ‘real’ fight and backed a retreating Slater from the living room of the house into the kitchen, Mr McEntee said.

The court heard Slater pulled out a flick knife, which he had brought with him, and Mr Grogan, in turn picked up a kitchen knife.

Slater responded by picking up a second larger knife, said Mr McEntee.

However both men lunged at each other and Mr Grogan was stabbed four times, the court heard.

The fatal blow, said Mr McEntee, went through his rib cage, puncturing his right lung and severing the victim’s pulmonary artery.

An ambulance was called but Mr Grogan died at the scene, the court was told. Slater was not injured in the incident.

Mr McEntee said both men had been in a relationship with a woman called Natasha Scott, which had caused ‘bad blood’.

Slater had been seeing her for nine years and they had two children together, and although Mr Grogan’s relationship with her was more short-lived they have one child together.

After stabbing Mr Grogan Slater ran to Ms Scott’s house where he hid one of the knives. When he was arrested by police, they found the flick knife on him before recovering the second knife. Both contained traces of Mr Grogan’s blood.

Mr McEntee said: “This is a tragic example of the catastrophic harm that can be done when young men, affected by drink and or drugs confront each other armed with knives.”

Mr McEntee said it was accepted Slater was initially trying to defend himself but his later actions amounted to “angry retaliation and aggression”.

He said the manslaughter plea had been accepted as four weeks before the incident Mr Grogan attacked Slater with an iron.

The victim, a trained mixed martial arts fighter, had also instigated the fatal confrontation, he said, and Mr Grogan had ‘a known propensity to violence established by his previous convictions’.

The court heard Slater had a string of convictions and had once broke a man’s jaw.

John Jones QC, defending, said his client had shown remorse and had only been carrying a knife because he feared the victim.

Slater had also assisted police in finding one of the knives and had instigated an ambulance being called to the house, he added.

Jailing Slater Judge Mark Brown, Recorder of Preston, said: “You were the first to produce a knife and it escalated the situation.

“Mr Byrne was trying to separate you but you went for Mr Grogan, as he went for you. You stabbed and slashed him repeatedly.

“Although he had a knife, significantly you had no injuries.”

Reacting to the sentence, Lloyd Grogan, Taz’s father, said the family was “bitterly disappointed” a manslaughter plea had been accepted as Taz had been repeatedly stabbed.

He added: “It is just an absolutely cowardly act. It has robbed Taz from us in the prime of his life. It feels like a bit of a light has gone out in our family.

“He has shown no remorse. This is a man who, when he was arrested was waving and smiling to the crowd, knowing he had killed my son. He has left several of my family in therapy.

“It doesn’t really feel like we have got justice or Taz has got justice.

“It feels like Slater has got away with it. He has robbed two children of a dad. That to me is worse than robbing a father of a son.”

Mr Lloyd said his family was still grieving and would never forget Taz.

But he hoped they could move on for the sake of his children and grandchildren.

This had not been helped though as Taz’s grave had been vandalised on several occasions, he added.