Man cleared of murdering ex-RAF pilot partner

Steven Barrett
Steven Barrett
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A FORMER accountancy student was cleared of murdering his ex-RAF pilot partner in a knife attack today after claiming the fatal wound was self-inflicted.

Darren McLauchlan, 24, was accused of murdering Steven Barrett at a flat they shared in Lochend Butterfly Way.

But following a trial at the High Court in the city McLauchlan was acquitted of the alleged offence on a majority not proven verdict by a jury.

The trial judge Michael O’Grady QC told jurors after the verdict: “This has been a very difficult, anxious and distressing case.”

McLauchlan, from Glasgow, had denied inflicting the fatal stab wound to the heart of Mr Barrett during his evidence and told the court: “I would have no reason to do such a thing.”

His counsel Gordon Jackson QC told the jury it was an unusual and most distressing case and said: “When we look together at the evidence it is impossible to be satisfied, never mind satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, that this happened in the way it is alleged.”

Mr Jackson said the defence were saying that the stabbing victim did it to himself.

A pathologist told the court that it was not possible to determine whether the stab wound resulted from an assault or was self-inflicted.

Although acquitted of the murder Mclauchlan was found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice in the wake of the death.

He falsely told police that Mr Barrett had been attacked and injured outside the flat and cleaned a knife.

He also got a friend, Shannon Nisbet, to make false statements to officers investigating the incident on April 6 last year.

Sentence was deferred on McLauchlan for that offence until next month for the preparation of a background report.

The court heard that McLauchlan had met Mr Barrett, 27, on a holiday in Gran Canaria.

On the night of the death they were joined by Miss Nisbet, 24, and had gone to the Opal Lounge in George Street before returning to the men’s flat via a takeaway to get food.

Miss Nisbet said she fell asleep but heard banging from a bedroom and her friend McLauchlan shouting on her.

After she went to the bedroom she saw Mr Barrett with a wound and asked McLauchlan: “What the f*** has happened?”

She told advocate depute Alex Prentice QC that McLauchlan told her to say that Mr Barrett had been attacked outside the flat.

An ambulance was called but she said McLauchlan asked her to clean the knife but she refused.

The court heard that Miss Nisbet told lies because she did not “feel safe” but started to tell the police the truth after she had spoken to her mother.

She said: “I felt terrible. I just felt disgusted with myself.”

She told the court: “To be honest I was saying what Darren was telling me to say.”

McLauchlan told the court that when he went into the bedroom he found Mr Barrett down by the bed “in a sort of kneeling position”. He added: “He repeatedly told me to get out and not to go near him.”

He said his head “was all over the place” and he was crying and screaming at Mr Barrett “what have you done”.

He said he was screaming “why, why” and that Mr Barrett said to say it happened outside.

He said he knew there were a number of issues in Mr Barrett’s life that he was facing, including telling his parents that he was gay and over redundancy fears at the airline Flybe.

McLauchlan said he called an ambulance and was told to get a towel and wrap it on and apply pressure.