A MURDERER has been sentenced to a minimum of 24 years in prison after being described as an "extremely dangerous" man.

Mark Bartholomew was found guilty of murdering Barrow dad-of-three Andy Hackett after a two-week trial at Preston Crown Court ended on Friday (31).

Jurors took three hours to reach an unanimous verdict, and the 40-year-old returned to the court for sentencing today (3).

His Honour Judge Brown, who described Bartholomew as an "extremely dangerous individual with a short fuse who was manipulative and controlling and had a propensity to use violence", sentenced him to life, with a minimum term of 24 years.

The judge also said Bartholomew had pre-armed himself in the course of his criminal activities and demonstrated intent to kill.

During the trial, prosecutor Nigel Power QC told how Mr Hackett had been stabbed through the heart with such force that he also suffered broken ribs.

After the incident, which occurred on the morning of December 10 last year at Bartholomew's home in Gloucester Street, Barrow, Mr Hackett was dragged into the back alley, before Bartholomew made his way to Salthouse Mills, where he threw the 34cm wooden-handled kitchen knife into Cavendish Dock.

Co-accused Lee Black is due to return to the court on October 1 to be sentenced after being found guilty of assisting an offender.

The court had previously heard how 39-year-old Black had made extensive efforts to clean up the scene of the murder.

Cumbria Police Supt Sarah Jackson said: "Mark Bartholomew tried to represent himself as a benevolent individual who helped Black and Mr Hackett get by in everyday life, but he was in fact nothing more than a criminal drug dealer who ensured those around him were hooked on the very drugs he sold and he shamelessly wielded that power to control and intimidate.

"This is a tragic case where Mr Hackett lost his life in a senseless attack following a minor disagreement about drugs."