Teenagers found guilty in Bathgate double-murder

Steven Mitchell who was brutally knifed less than 48 hours after Harry Reekie. Picture: Contributed
Steven Mitchell who was brutally knifed less than 48 hours after Harry Reekie. Picture: Contributed
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TWO teenagers are facing life behind bars after the bodies of two men were found within 36 hours in West Lothian.

Andrew Moran threatened to torture pensioner Harry Reekie and terrorised him to give them £20,000, telling his accomplice Paul Erskine to slice off the man’s ear.

The thugs then made off with £400 and went shopping with the money.

Moran and Erskine were snared for the killing of second victim Steven Mitchell after footprints from their new trainers were left at the scene.

Both face life in jail when they are sentenced next month.

Moran was today convicted of both murders following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Erskine was found guilty of murdering Mitchell and the culpable homicide of Reekie.

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

The pensioner had moved to Scotland to help care for his terminally ill brother. Mr Reekie himself had previously battled cancer.

He woke up in the early hours to discover the hooded duo in his living room.

Moran and Erskine had clambered in through the stranger’s window having earlier broke in to a nearby house.

The court heard the OAP was then put through an “unimaginable” ordeal.

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

In her closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Angela Gray said: “Harry Reekie told him he did not know what he was talking about.

“Andrew Moran’s response to that was to try and cut Harry Reekie’s ear off.

“Torturing him in his own home where he should have been safe.”

The victim was stabbed as Moran ordered Erskine to hunt for cash.

Moran got his hands on tape before binding it around Mr Reekie’s mouth and wrists.

As the terrified pensioner sat bleeding in his chair, Erskine continued to rifle through the house.

Mr Reekie tried to offer the keys to his car to end his ordeal – but was simply knifed again by Moran.

Even as Mr Reekie tried to get help, Moran again slashed him across the legs.

The thug pair eventually fled with £400 and a number of mobile phones.

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

Mr Campbell had gone downstairs after hearing the pensioner’s cries for help.

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

The witness 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.”

A frail Mr Reekie was later able to identify his attackers when questioned by police in hospital.

The pensioner remembered Moran’s “fat face” and “stinking breath”.

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

He added: “He was 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”.

The pensioner sadly never recovered and died on January 4 this year.

But, the jury heard, in the hours after the attack, the killers used their loot 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 snapped up a pair of Cruyff training shoes.

They were later caught on CCTV with the gear.

The pair’s thirst for violence, however, soon continued.

Steven Mitchell was their next victim in the early hours of September 17.

The court heard how Mr Mitchell 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 savagely set upon at the house he was staying at in the town’s Marmion Road.

He suffered more than a dozen stab wounds including one to the heart. The 31 year-old was also battered with a hammer.

No motive, if any, is clear as to why Mr Mitchell was murdered.

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 was clocked walking from the area around 2am.

However, they left 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 enjoyed a McDonalds meal together – as Mr Mitchell’s sister discovered her brother’s mutilated body.

The court heard Erskine went on to tell a friend: “Me and Kermit (Moran) stabbed f*** out of Steven Mitchell and caved his head in with a hammer.”

Moran was then said to have chillingly boasted to another man: “Paul stabbed f*** out of 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.

Moran denied the killings. It was claimed he was a “fantasist” and a “wannabe gangster” who “talked nonsense”.

But, in her closing speech, prosecutor Miss Gray said the evidence in the case was “crushing”.

She described the violence as “senseless, needless and grotesque”.

Judge Lord Kinclaven remanded both in custody and deferred sentencing until October 9 in Edinburgh.