Son who killed is freed

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A man who stabbed his brutal, drunken father to death was put on three years probation yesterday. Ricky Williamson, 20, had suffered years of abuse at the hands of his father, Ronald, who ruled by violence and intimidation.

The boy was beaten, burned and had his head shaved as punishments. But he snapped when the bully, 42, with a string of criminal convictions, tried to goad him into a fight. He ended years of misery with a single blow from a kitchen knife.

Williamson, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Sheffield Crown Court on 14 February after 12 months on remand in custody. He was released on bail to await sentence, with his elder sister, Julia, standing by him.

The judge said he had seen worse cases of provocation, and Williamson could have "shrugged off" threatening words from a drunken man. But he was "reluctantly" prepared to accept recommendations from the probation service.

The judge said he had had a bad start in life and had been deprived of parental direction when he needed it most.