Man who murdered Northumbria Uni student Jason Brockbanks sentenced to life in prison

Aaron Ray stabbed Jason in his student halls after reading messages on his phone

A man has been sentenced to a minimum of 22 years in prison over the murder of Northumbria University student, Jason Brockbanks.

Aaron Ray, 21, attacked Jason, 24, in his flat in the early hours of September 24th 2022 before fleeing the scene. Jason was found dead in his accommodation three days later, the BBC reports.

Ray was arrested at his family home in Sunderland, where he told police the men had had a violent struggle but he had not realised he had killed Jason. His defence barrister Toby Hedorth KC, said the killing was not premeditated.

Ray was convicted of murder on Tuesday, following a seven day trial and with jury delivering a unanimous verdict after just over an hour of deliberation. He must now serve a life sentence in prison over the brutality of his attack.

Mr Justice Martin Spencer said the evidence against Ray said that he had been “possessive, jealous and violent” in previous relationships and was also “deceitful, dishonest and when drunk, highly dangerous”.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Tomasz Fowler, from Northumbria Police, said: “There has been no evidence at all throughout this investigation to support Ray’s claim that Jason was violent or aggressive in any way and it was clear that his fellow students saw him as a friendly and sociable person.”

CCTV footage showed the pair in multiple bars across the city before returning to Jason’s flat at 03:45am on 24th September, where Ray is captured kicking Jason outside.

The court heard that it was likely that Jason had fallen asleep when they got back to his flat, where Ray then recorded a video of himself scrolling through Jason’s phone and finding messages on Grindr, a dating app, before using a knife from the communal kitchen to attack him.

Jason, a third year student, was slashed across the back before being stabbed in the side while he was laying in bed. He then fell to the floor, before finding his way to the bathroom and collapsing in the shower cubicle where he then bled to death.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Jason may have survived if he had received medical help.

The Judge told Ray: “You have shown no remorse for your actions. You didn’t call the emergency services to help Jason. The situation was retrievable, had you sought help, but you didn’t.”

In a statement, Jason’s father, Chris, said his son “hated violence” and had a “huge passion for life”. He said: “To know Jason died slowly and alone will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

“We believe Jason spent his last moments looking for his mobile phone to call for help but he was unable to find the phone due to the defendant having been the last person to use it.

“I will never comprehend how a human being could walk away from Jason, lying injured in his room in such a cruel and callous manner.”

Northumbria University described Jason as a “very promising student” who was “highly regarded” by his course tutors and “well-liked” by fellow students.

It added: “We continue to offer support to any of our students who may be affected by this tragic loss,”.

If you are a Northumbria University student feeling unsettled about the news, please be aware that support is available. You can access 24/7 information, advice and support through the Ask4Help service and specialist support through the professional counselling and mental health team. To access these services please visit Student Life and Wellbeing.

If you are a Newcastle University student and need support, you can access 24/7 information, advice and support through the TalkCampus and iNCLude service and find specialist support through the professional counselling and mental health team. To access these services please visit Student Wellbeing.

Featured image via Northumbria Police.

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