BREAKING: First pic of pub landlord 'stabbed to death in beer garden after barring punter'

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Christian Thornton, 45, was stabbed to death at around 3.20pm yesterday afternoon at the Hammer and Pincers pub in Widnes.

Eye-witnesses revealed that the landlord confronted a man who was in the pub garden who had been “barred from the premises”.

Police have not yet formally identified the victim.

Locals have paid tribute to Mr Thornton, who organised regular fundraisers at the pub and was popular in the community.

He was described him as “a lovely man” and a “hero”.

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In a tribute, one friend said: “My dad taught Chris many moons ago on being a landlord when we were in Albion, been brought up in pubs for over 20 years.

“I cant believe this today, trying to keep bad people out of pubs and protecting the nice people of the our town has cost him his life!

“Been a hero in my eyes. It’s so sad my thoughts go out to all his family and friends.

“Rest in peace, Chris.”

Chief Inspector Simon Parsonage, who is in charge of policing in Widnes, said: “Understandably the local community will be concerned about what has happened.

“I would like to reassure those living locally that we are doing everything we can to establish the circumstances of what has happened and extra officers will be patrolling the area overnight and into the morning to provide reassurance.

“If you have any concerns at all please speak to an officer.”

A police spokesman said: “At 3.20pm on Sunday 11 August police received reports of a serious assault near the Hammer and Pincers pub in Liverpool Road.

“Officers swiftly attended the scene to find the victim – a 49-year-old local man – had sustained serious stab wounds. 

“Sadly, despite the best efforts of all involved, the man died at the scene.

“A 35-year-old man and 39-year-old woman have been arrested in connection with the incident. 

“They remain in custody helping police with their enquiries at this time.”

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