One of the children who starred in the iconic ‘Accrington Stanley, who are they?’ milk ad in the eighties was today jailed for life for murder.
Kevin Spaine, 43, was convicted yesterday of killing Learoy Venner, who was repeatedly punched and kicked in a brutal assault in an Anfield flat.
Spaine returned to Liverpool Crown Court today for sentencing, where he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.
John Harrison KC, who appeared on behalf of the murderer, told the court during his sentencing that his client had been a “very promising young footballer” and even starred in the famous Milk Marketing Board television advertisement in 1989.
Spaine was one of two children seen in the clip, dressed in Liverpool FC kits.
He himself is only briefly seen on camera, panning the shot before it focuses on his co-star Carl Rice as well as a fridge in the kitchen. The defendant is heard asking ‘do you have lemonade?’, to which the other youth footballer replies: ‘If you want.’
Kevin Spaine, 43, was today sentenced to life in prison for murdering Learoy Venne in a brutal attack
A frame from the iconic ad shows Spaine on the right with his back to the camera.
While pouring himself a glass of milk, Spaine reacts by saying: ‘Milk? eurgh.
His friend tells him: ‘It’s what Ian Rush drinks. He said if I don’t drink a lot of milk, when I grow up I’ll just be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.
Then Spaine says the family line ‘Accrington Stanley, who are they?’ before a young Mr. Rice, who has had a successful screen career including roles on Coronation Street and Brassic, answers with ‘exactly’. The role of him in the TV commercial had so far been incorrectly credited to ‘Kevin Staine’.
But his life spiraled into a crime and drug spiral over the next year, leading to some 40 court appearances for nearly 100 offenses and ultimately culminating in the murder of Mr. Venner. Dating back to 1999, his criminal history includes convictions for trafficking heroin and crack, battery, and assault with attempted robbery.
Harrison said in his extenuation: “This defendant’s life has been blighted and dominated by the abuse of illegal drugs. He has a very long criminal record.
We know you’ve been in this situation for 20 years or more, but it wasn’t always like this. Mr. Spaine was a very promising young footballer and he appeared in a very famous television advert – a milk advert featuring Accrington Stanley.
He played a role in that ad. At 10 or 12, or whatever age she was, she had a promising future.
Learoy Venner was repeatedly punched and kicked in a brutal assault in an Anfield flat
‘Soon after, he plunges into a life of criminality. Twenty years later, he is convicted of murder.
‘It is not a spiral unknown to the court, but it is tragic. Of course, respect the verdict of the jury.
A trial previously heard that Mr. Venner had been living at the address temporarily at the time of the incident on July 27, 2022, sleeping on a camp bed in the lounge. Alan Kent KC, prosecutor, described how the apartment was being “used as a drug den”, with Spaine among its frequent visitors.
But the 43-year-old man was denied entry by the victim shortly after noon on the day in question. He was eventually let in by returning tenant Mark Kelly, who then left again to recharge the electric meter.
It was at this point that Mr. Venner was fatally assaulted, and Spaine knocked him unconscious, then went to his mother’s house to change clothes. He was arrested on suspicion of murder in Edge Lane that night, at which point he replied: ‘That’s a major charge, what do you mean murder?’
During an interview with detectives, Spaine later stated that Mr. Venner, of Toxteth, had “hit him twice” and hit him back four or five times “in self-defense”. A post-mortem investigation revealed that she had suffered “multiple blunt force blows” that caused brain injury, “the kind of trauma usually associated with a car accident or a fall from a height.”
Passing sentence this morning, Judge Brian Cummings KC said: ‘Only you will know the details of what happened in the apartment at the time. You have proven yourself a shocking liar.
I’m sure there was no element of self-defense in anything you did to Leroy Venner. What possible threat could it have presented to you?
‘I’m sure you landed multiple heavy punches in his face and then finished off your attack by kicking him, probably more than once and hard. What precisely made you want to do all this will never be known to anyone but yourself.
You insist a lot on wanting to enter the apartment. I’m sure your interest in gaining entry to the apartment was because you hoped to obtain drugs or money; probably he was disappointed in that hope.
I don’t think it was murder for profit. However, I am sure that when you gained access to the apartment, after you had been wandering around, those things led you to launch a vicious attack on it.
I had no chance of escaping from you or fighting you. You attacked and killed a man you knew to be weak and in poor health.
‘I accept that the eruption of violence occurred spontaneously, although you were in an agitated state considering the fact that you had been made to wait outside. You left him unconscious face up and breathing his own blood for something like half an hour before he actually died.