Attempted murder accused ‘was acting in self-defence’

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A MAN accused of attempting to murder his uncle and inflicting permanent brain damage by repeatedly stamping on his head was acting in self-defence, a jury has been told.

A MAN accused of attempting to murder his uncle and inflicting permanent brain damage by repeatedly stamping on his head was acting in self-defence, a jury has been told.

Steven McMahon, 33, who is on trial at the High Court at Livingston, was acting under provocation when he attacked Billy Johnston, his defence counsel claimed.

It was claimed that moments before the vicious attack in Edinburgh’s Calton Road last August, Mr Johnston had threatened to kill his nephew, dump the body then murder the accused’s wife and children.

Unemployed McMahon, of Restalrig Avenue, Edinburgh, denies assaulting Mr Johnston to his severe injury, permanent impairment and danger of life and attempting to murder him.

The jury heard that Mr Johnston was described as being in a vegetative state and is expected to die in care.

The prosecution completed its evidence yesterday and the defence chose not to lead any evidence from the accused.

Advocate Depute Andrew Brown QC, prosecuting, said in his closing speech that by returning to repeatedly kick and stamp on his uncle’s head a second time, Steven McMahon’s assault had gone far beyond self-defence.

He told the jury: “He attacked Billy Johnston, he kicked him, stamped on him, all without justification – a deliberate attack with evil intent.

“In his police interview he said he was deliberately inflicting blows determined to incapacitate Billy Johnston. Whether he intended to kill Billy Johnston or didn’t care whether Billy Johnston lived or died, that comprises not just an assault but attempted murder.”

He said that when eyewitness David Hook watched the incident from his window, Mr Johnston wasn’t attacking anyone.

“In fact David Hook called the police and told them that he thought the person lying on the floor was dead.”

Defence counsel Brian Gilfedder said McMahon had told police after the incident that his uncle had threatened to kill him, dump his body then murder his wife and six children.

He said: “It’s against that background that you must judge the actions of Steven McMahon. In my submission the threat and danger that Mr McMahon was experiencing at that time was present and imminent throughout the whole incident.

“What was done was done in hot blood where Steven 
McMahon lost his temper and his self control.

“It’s bad enough when someone threatens to kill you, but it’s a hundred times worse when someone threatens to kill your children. You’ll do what you have to do to defend yourself and your family.

“That’s all Steven McMahon was trying to do. There was no wickedness in his heart, just utter fear and terror.”

The jury was sent home last night after failing to reach a verdict. It was expected to resume deliberations this morning.