THE prison terms handed down to two thugs who killed a takeaway delivery driver in a row over wet paint have been slammed as too lenient.
Steven Archibald, 37, and Michael Sutherland, 31, were imprisoned at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday for killing “gentle soul” John Auld in Tranent’s High Street.
Their sentence – 11 years in total – was heavily criticised by Mr Auld’s best friend John McGovern, 47.
He believes his tragic pal – attacked after the pair got paint on their jackets in the takeaway where he worked – has been “let down”.
“It’s disgusting to be honest,” he said. “Five and six years is really disgusting. I think a lot of people in Tranent and Ormiston will be angry. I know I am, because it’s not justice for John. I’ve not spoken to his family since the sentencing but I’m sure they will feel disgusted too.
“I don’t think what happened was fair and it’s not good enough. The system obviously doesn’t work when things like this can happen.”
Sentencing them, judge Lord Uist said that Mr Auld, a former Royal Scot, suffered a “fatal misfortune” when the two thugs entered Kopa’s takeaway where he worked.
The judge added that the men were responsible for “a completely unjustified and wholly deplorable episode of violence which resulted in an innocent man losing his life”.
Mr Auld stepped in when Archibald and Sutherland became angry after getting marks on their jackets in the freshly-painted outlet.
Despite signs warning customers about the paint, Sutherland – who had spent the day drinking with Archibald – vaulted the counter to punch and kick the takeaway’s boss, Brahim Hamouda, 52. Mr Auld, who suffered from a heart condition, tried to help his boss, but Archibald and Sutherland pinned him against walls before kicking his head and body and hitting his head off a pane of glass.
The 59-year-old, of Limeylands Crescent, Ormiston, managed to get outside but slumped over the bonnet of his car before falling to the ground. Ambulance and hospital staff battled in vain to save him.
Unemployed Archibald, of Edenhall Crescent, Musselburgh, and Sutherland, of Inchview Road, Wallyford, were originally charged with murdering Mr Auld after the assault on March 4 last year. But the Crown earlier accepted their guilty pleas to a charge of culpable homicide.
Sutherland, described as the “prime mover” in the attack, was jailed for six years. Archibald, who was still complaining about paint damage to his jacket when police detained him, was imprisoned for five years and three months. The court heard that both men had minor criminal convictions, including breach of the peace.
Local councillor Jim Gillies was a pal of the victim. He said: “I knew John as a friend and I know his family. I think they should’ve got longer when Big John has died.
“I suppose that’s what happens when charges drop from murder to culpable homicide. I think they should’ve got more but nothing will bring Big John back. No sentence would change what happened.
“John was a gentle soul and a good man. It’s a tragedy and he will be greatly missed.”
Lord Uist said: “This was a completely unjustified and wholly deplorable episode of violence which resulted in an innocent man losing his life.
“I accept you did not intend to kill him and that his death was not directly brought about by any of the injuries which you inflicted on him, but by a heart attack caused by the physiological stress of the incident.” But the judge said “considerable violence” was used against the victim, adding: “When you engage in violence of this sort you never know what the consequences will be.”