THE FAMILY of a 24-year-old man murdered by an intoxicated friend with a history of knife crime said they have been "let down" by the criminal justice system.

Oliver Parsons was high and drunk on a cocktail of lager, vodka, whiskey, the legal high Euphoria, cannabis and Mephedrone when he stabbed Joe Lewis through the heart in a Brighton flat on Christmas morning.

The attack was just three months after Parsons phoned police from the Royal Sussex County Hospital telling officers he had a knife on him and was going to harm members of the public, and followed a handful of other knife-related crimes.

Speaking to The Argus after the 31-year-old, of no fixed address, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 16 years without parole, the Lewis family said they were "disgusted" to learn of his 55 past offences accounting for 34 previous convictions.

They said: "We feel if he was dealt with in the correct way our brother and son would still be alive. We feel let down by our criminal justice system."

His mother Katrina Lewis said no parent should ever have to bury their child in a statement read in Lewes Crown Court yesterday.

Judge Shani Barnes, sentencing, said: "This was a disaster waiting to happen."

Detective chief inspector Mike Ashcroft, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, told The Argus "lessons would be learnt" from the tragedy and the case would be looked at by all agencies involved.

Parsons and Mr Lewis were staying with their friend Mateusz Witczak in his Warwick Mount studio apartment in Montague Street, and bought drink and drugs to kick start the Christmas festivities.

Mr Witczak told police the generally quiet Mr Lewis became loud and was warned the noise would upset the neighbours.

At this point Parsons got involved and threatened to throw him out if he did not stop. They became embroiled in an argument, and Parsons later claimed he was protecting himself and Mr Witczak because they were being punched in the head. But no injuries consistent with his story were found, the court heard.

Mr Witczak found Mr Lewis lying on the bed bleeding and called emergency services at 1am. Police officers and paramedics battled to save his life but he was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.

A post-mortem confirmed he had been stabbed through the top of the heart, and doctors established a knife of around six or seven centimetres was used at the equivalent force to a punch and snapped off in the process.


IT began as a meal and drinks between friends to mark the arrival of Christmas.

Mateusz Witczak, was letting Oliver Parsons and Joe Lewis stay with him in his flat.

On Christmas Eve they bought 18 Kronenberg, vodka, whiskey, and the legal high Euphoria before sharing a chicken and pasta dinner together.

They made their way through the lager and, to his regret, Mr Witczak, 27, opened the vodka.

What began as a polite warning for Mr Lewis, 24, to keep the noise down, transformed into an argument.

Parsons grabbed a knife from the coffee table and stabbed Mr Lewis through three layers of clothing - a think coat, jumper and t-shirt - in the top of his heart.

Both Parsons, 31, and Mr Witczak spoke to the 999 caller and, despite heroic efforts by paramedics and police officers, Mr Lewis died in the Warwick Mount studio apartment.

What followed was a series of troubling admissions from Parsons when he was arrested and escorted under caution to Hollingbury custody centre while being filmed by cameras worn by officers.

He tells PCs Stephen Matthews and Rachel Standing how he hated Mr Lewis and the attack was because he tried to take over the flat but "came up against a Crawley boy who would stab him up."

He swore and insulted Mr Lewis, repeatedly detailing how he attacked him. At times he expresses concern for Mr Lewis but then says he did not care if he was dead because he [Parsons] was only worried about him own welfare.

When asked to sign a document detailing his confession, he laughs manically and agrees, the court witnessed. He tells the custody sergeant being put in Lewes Prison would be a "doddle" and he expected to get 15 years.

Richard Barton, prosecuting, said the 40-minute footage needed to be shown in court in full to do Mr Lewis and his family justice.

Sussex Police later published a 30 second clip of the footage.

Mr Witczak told police he blamed himself for opening the vodka, Lewes Crown Court heard yesterday, but, in mitigation, Iain Morley QC claimed Euphoria - the legal high banned in April and set to be made illegal - was why Parsons committed murder.

He said he had a "degree of vulnerability" and it took "courage" to admit guilt, adding: "It was a gross overreaction. He wasn't in his right mind."

Parsons has paranoid schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and other personality disorders, the court heard, but judge Shani Barnes said the "poisons" he voluntarily put in his body could not be ignored and his actions were "totally and utterly senseless".

She reduced Parsons' life sentence of 18 years without parole by two for the time he has already served in custody and his guilty plea, which he entered  two days ago as his trial was due to start. He will remain on licence for the rest of his life.

Judge Barnes said: "You have been before the courts on so many occasions. You had ten-and-a-half-months to admit your guilt. The family will never recover from it [losing Mr Lewis]."

Appearing in court on video while in custody at Lewes Prison, because he was too ashamed to attend in person, Parson hung his head for the entire proceedings and sat motionless until he was sentenced when he scratched his head as he left the room.

Detective chief inspector Mike Ashcroft, of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team, said Euphoria was an extremely dangerous drug not fit for human consumption.

Parsons' actions mean Christmas for the Lewis family will never be the same again.