An ex-youth footballer who fled the UK after murdering a fellow gym user has been jailed for life.
Charles Riddington, 37, repeatedly stabbed George Barker, 24, at the Double K Gym in Bexley, south-east London, in November 2016.
Mr Barker, from South Darenth, Kent, had 17 wounds to his head, body and arms, including three fatal injuries, jurors at the Old Bailey heard.
Riddington was told he would serve a minimum of 19 years behind bars.
During his trial, he claimed he was acting in self-defence.
Sentencing him, Judge Nigel Lickley QC said: “The wounds to George Barker were horrendous.
“You aimed the knife at his face and body causing him severe wounds.
“The wounds you caused show in my judgement you only had one intention and that was to kill.
“I reject any suggestion you were acting in self defence.”
Riddington, from Orpington in south east London, was convicted last month.
His trial heard how he had been lying in wait for Mr Barker at the gym, launching a “merciless attack” on him with a lock knife.
‘International drug dealing’
However, Riddington, who played for Millwall as a child, claimed it was Mr Barker who was carrying the knife, adding he had disarmed him during a fight over money.
Police said they had received “reliable” information Mr Barker was in dispute with someone over a debt before his death, with phone evidence suggesting he was involved in “large-scale and international drug dealing”.
Jurors were told Riddington believed he had been “conned” and was owed money by Mr Barker.
Following the attack, Riddington used a false passport to fly to Germany and was eventually extradited from northern Cyprus in November 2018 and charged.
In a family statement read to the court, Mr Barker’s mother said: “My son was murdered. I buried my son. Such awful, unimaginable words I thought I would never, ever, have to say.
“George was the youngest, the baby of the family. He teased his sisters he was my favourite. He was my favourite son, my only son.”
Mr Barker became a father just days before his murder.
His mother added: “We take [his daughter] to the grave sometimes where she points and says ‘My Daddy, my Daddy’. We smile back and agree with her.
“Inside we are crying.”
At the start of the trial Riddington had pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing a stun gun and CS spray.
He was sentenced to three months imprisonment for each charge, to run concurrently.