THE uncle of murdered teenager Dale Bennett was headbutted in court yesterday as Dale’s killer was jailed for life.
Thug Brian McHale must serve at least 15 years after stabbing the 17-year-old in February 2011.
As McHale, 21, was led to the cells for the murder of the “defenceless” teenager to cries of “rot in hell”, his friends and family clashed with those of the victim.
Dale’s uncle was left with a broken nose after being headbutted in the face.
Police today welcomed the sentence and said that that McHale was a “cold and callous character”.
Detective Inspector Jim Robertson, who led the investigation, said: “We acknowledge today’s sentence and would like to take this opportunity to thank Dale’s family for their assistance during our inquiry and for the way they handled this entire ordeal with great dignity.
“Brian McHale has shown himself to be a cold and callous character who was happy to use a knife and then show no remorse for his actions.
“The local community have been of tremendous assistance to officers throughout the investigation.”
It was also confirmed extra police officers would be patrolling the streets of Gorebridge and nearby Mayfield, in Midlothian, to reassure communities in the wake of gang tensions in the aftermath of the murder.
Inspector Mike Bennett, community inspector for the Dalkeith area, said: “We understand that this will be a difficult time for many members of the Mayfield and Gorebridge communities, and we are ensuring our officers are accessible and visible in both areas to monitor and address any local concerns.
“Anyone found to be in possession of a knife or similar weapons will be robustly dealt with.”
Robert Hogg, chairman of Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council, said: “The police have been doing a good job since the incident in calming things down.
“I’m sure they will make sure nothing happens over the next few weekends. I just hope both communities can move on, there has always been tension between them.”
Sentencing the killer at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, judge Lady Clark told him: “You have deprived Dale Bennett, a young man loved by his family and friends of his life and that is a terrible thing to have done.
“You took up a knife and you ended up killing someone. Plainly you should never have gone anywhere near a knife that night.”
The trial heard how Hearts fan Dale and a group of friends from Mayfield were on their way to a party with friends in Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge, when they were met by McHale and his gang, leading to a fight breaking out.
McHale was chased into a house in Newbyres Crescent but came out brandishing a knife. The trial heard that McHale lashed out at the first person he saw.
From the start of his trial, McHale of Barleyknowe Street, Gorebridge, admitted his blade had killed Dale, but pleaded guilty to culpable homicide rather than murder.
He claimed: “I can’t remember stabbing anybody. I was angry. I snapped. I can’t explain it any other way.”
Defence QC Mark Stewart said McHale was full of remorse.