Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

Ex-football star's uncle knifed his own son to death

A cousin of former Irish international footballer Terry Phelan was knifed to death by his own father during a drunken family row.

Daniel Skeffington (29) was stabbed in the chest after clashing with dad Michael, who had become agitated as he prepared to move back to Ireland.

As Daniel lay dying, his father (64) cradled him in his arms saying: "Get up son, don't die, I didn't mean it.''

The victim, a first cousin of former Manchester City and Republic of Ireland defender Terry Phelan, was taken to hospital but died a short time later.

Michael Skeffington, a former plasterer, was initially charged with murder. But prosecutors at Manchester Crown Court accepted his guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after doctors said he had become "brain damaged'' by years of drinking.

The court heard how the stabbing took place last April after the widowed father of 10 -- who lived in Salford, Greater Manchester -- was planning to move back to his hometown of Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, to try and beat his drinking problem.

Daniel and older brother David (33) had gone round to their father's house in Agnes Street, Broughton, Salford, to help him pack -- but their father became agitated when the removal van was late turning up.

Skeffington, who had been drinking, threw potatoes from his plate at the kitchen wall before arguing with Daniel as David walked out of the house.

David overheard his brother shout: "Go on, go on, do it," before uttering: "He's really done it."

He dashed back into the house to find Daniel sprawled on the floor and his father with a knife claiming: "He ran on to it Dave, he ran on to it."

The court heard the accused had been on a "downward spiral" of drink and depression since his wife of 40 years died in 2007.

Yesterday, Skeffington was given an indeterminate sentence and must serve a minimum of two-and-a-half years before being considered eligible for parole.

Andy Tattersall, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "This is a tragic set of circumstances which resulted in Daniel's death. There are no winners in this case. Our thoughts go out to the Skeffington family."

Daniel's cousin, Terry Phelan, played for a number of clubs during his career including Leeds United, Swansea City, Wimbledon, Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Fulham.

Phelan also made 42 appearances for Ireland.

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