Landlord stabbed to death outside his pub  08/12/2019 12:56:15 
Christian Thornton Image copyright Ian Leonard
Image caption Christian Thornton died at the scene of the stabbing

A landlord has been stabbed to death outside his Cheshire pub.

Named locally as 49-year-old Christian Thornton, he was found with stab wounds and died at the scene on Liverpool Road in Widnes, police said.

The married father of three had worked at the Hammer and Pincers pub for 20 years, a friend told the BBC, first as a barman and then as its landlord.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the attack at 15:20 BST on Sunday.

A 39-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Cleaner Paul Whitfield, 50, said he was "devastated" and had known Mr Thornton for more than 20 years.

"I feel so sorry for his children - they are only young, about five or six," he added.

"He was a brilliant landlord - he knew what drink you had and it would be on the bar waiting for you."

Image caption A 35-year-old man and 39-year-old woman have been arrested

Witness Rick Slater, 33, said he heard "shouting and screaming" and Mr Thornton's body was found near the beer garden.

He said: "There were kids going down the slide when I went into the pub to get a pint.

"I came out a few minutes later and someone said they'd seen a flash of a knife and Chris was stabbed. It's terrible he's been taken like this."

Romeo Lopez, 32, said: "[Mr Thornton] was the life and soul."

He added: "His nickname was Tigger as he was always jumping around."

Floral tributes have been placed by a police cordon near the entrance to the pub.

Ch Insp Simon Parsonage, of Cheshire Police, said: "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."

Image caption Tributes have been left at the scene near the pub
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