A notorious criminal nicknamed 'bandit' has been sentenced to life in prison for murder.

Vincent Sparkes, 44, of Station Road was found guilty of the murder of 41-year-old Neil Bambrick during a stabbing on Broad Street on July 11, last year. 

He appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Monday, May 13, where he was found guilty following a trial and sentenced at the same hearing

At around 8.55pm on July 11, Sparkes and Mr Bambrick, who had been a volunteer at Swindon Street Friends, were involved in an altercation in the street when Sparkes headbutted Mr Bambrick before pulling out a knife and inflicting a single wound to the chest.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Police cordon off part of Broad Street after a man in his 40s suffered life-threatening injuries inMr Bambrick, who was not carrying a weapon, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

But despite the best efforts of the emergency services, he died in the early hours of the following morning in hospital.

A cordon was set up at the scene and following swift local enquiries by officers, Sparkes was arrested that evening at his friend’s house.

He was initially arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, but was further arrested on suspicion of murder the following morning following Mr Bambrick’s death.

Sparkes pleaded guilty to manslaughter, claiming the fatal wound was an accident. However, the jury rejected this and found him guilty of murder.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: In a statement following the verdict, Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Phil Walker said: “Firstly, I’d like to offer my condolences to Neil’s family and pay tribute to them for their conduct during the investigation and court process – I hope this verdict brings some comfort to them.

“This case again shows the tragic consequences of carrying a knife.

“In his interview, Vincent Sparkes described using the knife he was carrying in ‘the heat of the moment’ during an argument.

“Sadly, this split-second decision has cost Neil his life and it demonstrates that had Sparkes not made the decision to carry the knife in the first place, this argument would never have led to Neil’s death.

“Simply put, Neil would still be alive if Sparkes did not have a knife that day."

“The verdict comes during a week of activities around ‘Sceptre’ – which is a national knife crime initiative focusing on the reduction of knife crime.

“If you are considering carrying a knife, please think about the potentially life-long consequences of your actions.”

Five permanent knife surrender bins are in place around Swindon where knives and bladed articles can be handed in anonymously.