Evil pair’s shopping spree between West Lothian double murders

Andrew Moran and Paul Erskine on their shopping spree in The Voodoo Lounge, Bathgate. Picture: Glasgow Courts Agency

Andrew Moran and Paul Erskine on their shopping spree in The Voodoo Lounge, Bathgate. Picture: Glasgow Courts Agency

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A PAIR of teenage killers splashed stolen cash on designer clothes after robbing and torturing a pensioner – before stabbing another man to death the next day.

Andrew Moran and Paul Erskine left pensioner Harry Reekie drenched in blood and tied up following the “unimaginable ordeal” at his home in Bathgate.

The horrific attack saw Moran try to cut off Mr Reekie’s ear after demanding he hand over thousands of pounds in cash.

The duo, both 19, then used the £400 in cash taken from the helpless 65-year-old to go shopping and drinking in Bathgate town centre.

In the early hours of the next day, the killers struck again – this time attacking Steven Mitchell, who Moran had bullied on previously occasions. The 31-year-old was stabbed to death at a house just yards from Mr Reekie’s home.

The callous teenagers then went for a McDonald’s meal together and boasted to friends about their “evil” actions.

But they were later caught when police found bloody footprints from their new trainers at the scene of the second attack.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the two victims had been subjected to “needless and grotesque” violence in the space of just 36 hours.

Moran was yesterday convicted of both murders following a three-week trial, while Erskine was found guilty of murdering Mr Mitchell and the culpable homicide of Mr Reekie.

Speaking after the case, Detective Superintendent Kenny Graham, who led the “extensive” investigation into the horrific incidents, described Erskine and Moran as “vicious killers”.

He said: “My thoughts are today with the friends and relatives of Harry Reekie and Steven Mitchell who have had to endure the most tragic of circumstances.

“Although nothing can ever undo the wicked actions of Moran and Erskine, I hope this verdict brings them some sense of comfort.”

The jury heard that Moran and Erskine targeted Mr Reekie’s home in Lothian Street, Bathgate, at around 3am on September 16 last year.

The OAP had moved back to West Lothian from London to help care for his terminally ill brother, Colin, who had died shortly before the shocking attack.

Mr Reekie – who had battled cancer – woke up to discover the hooded duo in the living room of his home, where he lived alone.

They had climbed in through his window after breaking into a nearby house.

Moran ordered Mr Reekie to “sit there and shut up” before demanding £20,000.

When the terrified pensioner said he didn’t know what he was talking about, Moran tried to cut off his ear while Erskine searched for cash.

In her closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Angela Gray said: “[They were] torturing him in his own home where he should have been safe.”

Moran bound tape around Mr Reekie’s mouth and wrist, while he sat bleeding in a chair.

Mr Reekie offered the keys to his car in the hope that the men would stop his ordeal – only to be stabbed again by Moran.

Even as Mr Reekie tried to get help, Moran slashed him across the legs. The thugs eventually fled with £400 and several mobile phones.

Neighbour George Campbell found Mr Reekie “saturated in blood” with black and yellow tape wrapped tight around his neck.

Mr Campbell had rushed to the scene after hearing the pensioner’s cries for help.

The pensioner had a series of stab wounds on his chest, stomach, leg and arm.

Mr Campbell, 60, said: “He was sitting, but holding himself and his neck. I was shocked when he said he was stabbed.

“He was very weak and would have collapsed because he had lost so much blood.”

Mr Reekie was later able to identify his attackers when questioned by police in hospital, saying he remembered 
Moran’s “fat face” and “stinking breath”.

The victim also recalled Moran “getting his jollies” by knifing him.

He added: “He was getting his fun out of stabbing me. I did not feel pain, only terror.”

Mr Reekie told police the attack had left him terrified to return home and he remained “living in fear”.

He initially showed signs of improvement, but he sadly died in hospital on January 4 this year.

The jury heard that in the hours after the attack, the killers used the £400 cash to buy expensive clothes at the Nautica menswear store in Bathgate.

Moran treated himself to a Lyle and Scott jumper and New Balance trainers while Erskine bought a pair of Cruyff training shoes. They were captured on the shop’s CCTV. They also used the stolen cash to go drinking in the town.

Just a day later, the pair struck again – attacking Mr Mitchell at his home in Marmion Road, Bathgate.

The trial heard how Mr Mitchell – who is believed to have given the men access to his house – had previously told another man how Moran was “always trying to hit him” and was “bullying him”.

Mr Mitchell – described as a “loveable wee guy” – was stabbed a dozen times, including once to the heart, and struck with a hammer.

Moran and Erskine, who knew Mr Mitchell, have never revealed a clear motive for their actions.

Miss Gray told the jury: “They are together responsible for this further display of gratuitous and horrific violence, a few streets and only hours away from the attack on Harry Reekie.”

Moran and Erskine were seen walking from the area at around 2am – leaving behind damning footprints from the new trainers they bought with Mr Reekie’s cash.

At the end of what prosecutors described as a “ghoulish 36 hours”, the pair went for a McDonald’s meal – as Mr Mitchell’s sister, Charlene, discovered her brother’s body.

Moran was alleged to have boasted to another man: “Paul stabbed him and I finished him off. I’ll do it again . . . have done it before.”

Erskine previously admitted in court to being involved in Mr Mitchell’s murder, while Moran denied the killings. It was claimed he was a “fantasist” and a “wannabe gangster” who “talked nonsense”.

In her closing speech, Miss Gray described the violence as “senseless, needless and grotesque”.

Judge Lord Kinclaven remanded both in custody and deferred sentencing until next month, when they will both face life in jail.

Following the incidents, there were rumours in the community that Mr Mitchell had been involved in the earlier 
attack on Mr Reekie.

Det Supt Graham added: “Police inquiries have not identified any link between Harry Reekie and Steven Mitchell or indeed the crimes involved. In the absence of any explanation from Moran or Erskine it is reasonable to infer that they are both highly dangerous individuals and their convictions are welcomed.”

Mr Mitchell’s devastated sister, Charlene, said: “Rumours that Steven had anything to do with the attack on Harry Reekie are completely unfounded and we, his family, hope that now all the evidence has been heard people will now accept this and leave us to come to terms with our loss in peace knowing he was just another innocent victim of two mindless thugs.”

Miss Mitchell said she also wanted to thank everyone in the community for helping detectives with the investigation.

She added that the family was also grateful to local people who contributed to a fund towards a “dignified resting place” for her brother.

Mr Reekie had lived in London for a long period before returning to his native West 
Lothian, where several of his relatives still live.

Family friend Anne Ballantyne said in a statement: “Harry was a kind and gentle soul who was looking forward to a nice and relaxed life after living in London all those years.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com