George Barker murder: Charles Riddington jailed for 19 years for killing 24-year-old at Bexley gym
PUBLISHED: 15:08 17 October 2019
A former footballer has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of stabbing a new father to death at a Bexley kick-boxing gym over a £20,000 debt.
Charles Riddington, 37, and three other men "ambushed" new father George Barker, 24, at the Double K gym in Bexley, on November 14 2016.
Mr Barker - a suspected large-scale cocaine wholesaler - was stabbed 17 times and staggered to the door before he collapsed, the Old Bailey heard.
Earlier in the trial, Riddington said three drug dealers had approached him the week before the killing to say Mr Barker owed them money for "coke and skunk" and that the defendant in turn owed him £20,000.
Later that week, Riddington said he confronted Mr Barker about the incident.
He told jurors: "I said to him, 'George, you need to pay your bills'. I was basically saying you have got to pay your debts."
Riddington, who played for Millwall in his youth, fled the scene and travelled on a fake passport to Germany and South Africa.
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He was eventually extradited from northern Cyprus in November last year and charged.
There were cries from Riddington's friends and family in the public gallery as Judge Nigel Lickley sentenced him to life with a minimum term of 19 years.
Judge Lickley told Riddington there is a "child who will grow up without a father because of your actions".
In a statement, Mr Barker's mother, Julie Underwood, told the court his daughter, born a few days before his death, visits his grave.
Ms Underwood said: "We take her to George's grave sometimes where she climbs on the bench next to it and points to a photo we have of George.
"She says 'my daddy, my daddy, my daddy', smiling away. We smile back and agree with her ... inside we are crying.
"Her birthday is November 7, it's also seven days' countdown to George's murder."
Riddington was also sentenced to three months for possession of tear gas and a stun gun to run concurrently.