A THUG who stabbed to death a father-to-be just two months before his baby son was born has been jailed for 15 years for the killing.
James Purves was cleared of murder by a jury, but they found the 29-year-old joiner guilty of the culpable homicide of Paul Scott on February 7.
Mr Scott, from Niddrie Mill, who was the father of a young boy named Jay, did not live to see the birth of his second son, Jared, on April 26.
His partner, Fiona King, was left distraught by his killing, and wrote a heartfelt tribute to 22-year-old Mr Scott on a website tribute page.
She said: “You will live on in my heart forever, and I will love you for eternity. Always your gal, Fiona.”
Purves had claimed he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed scaffolder Mr Scott with a knife in his flat in Tollhouse Gardens in Tranent, East Lothian.
Following his conviction yesterday, the High Court in Edinburgh heard that Purves had a violent history, which included two prison sentences for assaults.
Purves was sentenced to nine months in 2004 for an assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement, while in 2006 he was jailed for two years for an assault to injury.
The court also heard that Purves had been found guilty of a breach of the peace involving a hammer, and he had been on bail at the time of the killing over drug charges.
Sentencing him, Michael O’Grady QC told Purves he had committed “a dreadful and appalling crime”.
He added: “You have taken the life of a young man and, sadly, no sentence I can impose can change that or right that wrong.”
The trial heard how Purves’ on-off girlfriend, Donna Beatson, turned up at his first-floor flat just before 4am on February 7 along with three women and three men, including Mr Scott, whom she had met during a night out in East Lothian and Edinburgh.
Ms Beatson, 21, let them in with keys she had secretly had cut the previous afternoon.
Inside, Purves was at home with friend James Ritchie, 27, and two girls following his own night out, listening to music and having a drink.
Moments later, Mr Scott lay dying after Purves struck at least three blows with a large kitchen knife after shouting and swearing about the people entering his flat.
Witnesses said Mr Scott’s arms were at his side and he did nothing to defend himself against 19-stone Purves.
However, tearful Purves, giving evidence, claimed it was Mr Scott who had the knife and spoke of the “horrible feeling” as he stabbed Mr Scott in a bid to disarm him.
Purves told the jury he only wanted the other man to let go and stop punching him.
The trial also heard that the fatal encounter followed a string of threatening texts from Ms Beatson to Purves throughout the previous day.
She told him a friend had seen him in the company of two girls and warned: “Watch what happens tonight.”
After the stabbing, Purves fled to a caravan in Eyemouth, Berwickshire, and he eventually contacted his solicitor from a telephone box and arranged to surrender to police a week later.
The weapon was never found, but scene of crime officers searching the flat noticed the largest of a set of knives was missing from a block in the kitchen.
Detective Chief Inspector Willie Guild, who led the investigation, welcomed the sentence.
He said: “Paul Scott was subjected to a brutal attack and suffered serious injury that ultimately cost him his life.
“After inflicting these wounds upon his victim, James Purves fled the scene, showing no remorse for his actions or the impact they would have on Paul’s loved ones.”
He added: “It is my sincere hope that the verdict today will give Paul’s family and friends some closure on this traumatic ordeal, so that they can begin to rebuild their lives.”