THE devastated parents of a “special and loving son” murdered by a thug have spoken of their loss after the killer was found guilty of stabbing the teenager to death.
Garry and Michelle Bennett said they had undergone a “harrowing ordeal” following the death of their 17-year-old son Dale, who was killed just over a year ago.
The couple welcomed the murder conviction of Brian McHale, 21, from Gorebridge, Midlothian, who was found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, but said they did not attend the hearing for “vengeance”.
Instead, Mr Bennett called for other families to make their children more aware about the dangers of carrying blades.
A Victim Support Scotland spokeswoman read out a statement from Mr Bennet following the conviction. It read: “What a waste of two young lives through stupidity. Knife crime must stop. Parents, families, schools, indeed everybody must work together to make sure this cannot happen again.
“My wife Michelle and I attended this trial following the killing of our beloved son Dale – but not to seek vengeance.
“No matter the outcome or sentence, nothing will change the impact that Dale’s loss has had on the life of our family.
“We are simply trying to understand what happened that night. The one thing we do know is that we have lost a special and loving son who was just beginning his life.”
Detective Inspector Jim Robertson, who led the murder investigation, told the Evening News that the teenager had been stabbed in the chest while his hands were at his side.
Dale, from Mayfield, was attacked in a disturbance in Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge in the early hours of February 12 last year as he went to a party.
DI Robertson said: “There was no evidence of an ongoing feud between these groups from Mayfield and Gorebridge. There had been an incident the previous weekend when McHale had assaulted one of Dale’s friends.
“Dale’s group from Mayfield were going to a party in Newbyres Crescent at the same time that the accused was visiting a relative in the street with his group. Dale’s group had arrived to find that the person at the house had not arrived home yet. The group of around a dozen people were waiting out in the street when the groups saw each other.”
DI Robertson said the two groups, totalling 18 people, threw bottles and other items at each other while one person was struck with a spade.
He added: “Various fights were taking place when McHale went to his relative’s house and returned with a large knife from the kitchen. McHale walked up to Dale and stabbed him in the chest. There were two witnesses who said that Dale had his hands down at his side at the time. He wasn’t defending himself at all.”
DI Robertson added: “McHale is a very violent individual. He tried to plead guilty to culpable homicide and said he was provoked, but he took a couple of minutes to go to the house, get a knife from a drawer, and return to the street. ”
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, said: “The tragedy of what happened to Dale Bennett reminds us about the dangers of carrying knives and the fact that we need to do everything possible to stop it.”