A MAN who smiled down on his victim as he plunged a knife into his chest has been jailed alongside his girlfriend – who goaded him into killing her ex-partner.

Joseph Hindle, 47, who was found guilty of murdering Accrington man Mark Fisher, 33, following a trial in December, was this afternoon jailed for life with a minimum of 27 years by the Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Robert Altham.

He had previously admitted robbery.

Louise Henwood, his partner at the time of the attack who had formerly been in a relationship with Mr Fisher, pleaded guilty to manslaughter before the trial and was jailed for a total of 18 years, of which 13 will be served in custody with five years on licence.

Preston Crown Court heard how the incident resulting in Mr Fisher’s death began on January 18 of last year, when Hindle was in Accrington town centre with Henwood and his sister.

It was during this outing while they were out looking for ‘dockers’ – old cigarette ends thrown away by others – that the two women of the group came across Mr Fisher, who was out selling cannabis.

This encounter led to Henwood being left under the impression that the victim had a large amount of cannabis.

When she got home that evening, Henwood manipulated Hindle into going to Mr Fisher’s home, where she had planned to rob him of his drugs.

Judge Altham said: “She deliberately wound up Mr Hindle by making allegations against Mr Fisher. This was done with the intention of goading him into action.

“There is evidence from earlier that night that Ms Henwood knew if the two men were to meet, Mr Hindle would be violent.

“She sought to intensify and use that hostility and she set out a catalogue of allegations against Mr Fisher so that Mr Hindle would agree to accompany her to the house, so Mr Fisher could be robbed.

“The allegations that she deployed against him were that he was a child beater, that he was a paedophile - of which there has never been any shred of evidence - and that he had beaten her to the extent that she had miscarried."

And so it was that the pair made their way to Mr Fisher’s home, not once but twice, where he was ultimately stabbed to death.

Hindle knocked on the door of Mr Fisher’s home for around five minutes before eventually being directed around to the back entrance which was more commonly used.

The victim then answered the door before he was stabbed several times to the face, chest and arms – suffering defensive wounds to his hands as he tried to fight off his attacker.

Prosecuting during the trial, Mr Tim Evans said: “Whilst this was happening Mark Fisher was begging the defendant to stop. He was telling the defendant that there was no more cannabis to be had but the defendant continued to stab Mr Fisher, smiling as he did so.”

The defence team tried to convince the jury Mr Fisher’s death was as a result of a robbery gone wrong but the jury unanimously rejected that account, finding him guilty of murder after six hours of deliberation.

Defending Hindle, of Woodside Road, Huncoat, Felicity Gerry QC said: “He has suffered addiction and trauma.

“He has a good relationship with his son, who is in court. This is someone with some family support, which you do not always see.

“This is a person who still has family ties and there is some impact on a family when a family member is imprisoned.”

Isobel Thomas, for Henwood, also of Woodside Road, said: “She is 34 and she does have previous convictions, none of which are as serious as this.

“At school she was considered bright and was good at music. But really her adult life has been entirely marred by her addiction to drugs.

“She is still young and there is time for her to change. Her life isn’t over.”

Judge Altham added: “I am driven to the conclusion that this was a frenzied attack involving violence which was taken to the very extreme.

“Given the nature of the attack I am in no doubt that in the moment of the attack itself this defendant [Hindle] intended to kill Mr Fisher, who was so badly injured he died at the scene.”