THE grieving family of Declan Bunting have shared their anguish over the 21-year-old's final moments.

Stuart Rawling, of Wilderspool Causeway, was jailed today, Tuesday, for 23 years after pleading guilty to his murder.

Mr Bunting's family said: "As a family we feel relieved that today Stuart Rawling has been sentenced for murdering Declan. Rawling finally admitted his guilt, accepting responsibility for what he has done to our son Declan.

"He has however made our family endure the anguish of preparing for a trial for the last six months.

"Rawling to us is a coward and we are so pleased that he can now no longer think he is able to scare or intimidate anyone.

“When we were told Dec had died our lives just shattered in to tiny pieces right there and then.

"We didn’t know what to think or do. We couldn’t accept what we had been told, that our boy was gone, stabbed to death.

"Since then our lives have been a constant struggle.

"We are distraught and feel broken that a piece of us is missing. We all miss him so so much, every minute of every day.

Warrington Guardian:

PICTURED: Declan Bunting

“Declan was kind, loving and his family meant everything to him and him to us. Declan was so strong, so happy and so funny with the world in front of him.

"Now all that’s been snatched away and it makes us feel so sad, his daughter will never get to know how great her Daddy was.

"He’s going to miss out on her first words, first steps, her first day of school and so much more.

"We will always love him so very much and he is and always will be in our thoughts.

“We love you Declan and we are so proud of you and how brave and independent you had become. We have all lost so much and we still can’t believe you have gone.

“We as a family now have to live with a life sentence. Yes one man has been sent to jail for this crime but for us this is not justice for what he has done.

"No jail sentence will ever bring Declan back or be ample punishment for taking a young man’s life away. One day that man will be released and able to carry on with his life and see his family again.

"We on the other hand will never see our son, brother, grandson, nephew or friend ever again.

“We will never be able to fix our family after having Declan taken from us but together we’ll be there for each other and somehow get through this nightmare.

“Declan was a massive part of our family that will be missed forever. I don’t think we’ll ever get over this tragedy and the hole it has left.

“We as a family wish to send our heartfelt thanks to the members of the public, police and medical staff who tried their best to save Declan the night he was fatally injured.

"We would also like to thank Cheshire Police, in particular the senior investigating officer and his team for all their hard work.”