Widow of chocolate brawl victim speaks out after sentencing

Roseanne McPhee
Roseanne McPhee
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THE widow of a man murdered after a fight over a bar of chocolate today said she could finally start grieving now that his killer had been sentenced.

William McArdle, 25, who brutally stabbed traveller Billy McPhee with a “Rambo-like sword” in Gilmerton, was sentenced to life with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 22 years.

His partner at the time, Chanelle Barrett, 19, was given a nine-year sentence after assaulting Mr McPhee and attempting to murder his best friend, Colin Stewart, 41.

A night of drinking in Gilmerton turned ugly between Mr McPhee, Mr Stewart and Barrett after she argued the pair had not bought her a big enough bar of chocolate when they stopped for some snacks.

After Barrett called McArdle, the brawl turned violent and both were stabbed several times.

Today, widow Roseanne McPhee, who suffers from terminal cancer, told the News she had finally “started grieving” and said she felt almost ready to scatter his ashes in one of their favourite spots in Aberdeen.

She said the sentence was “decent” but was “not right” given the circumstances.

Mrs McPhee said: “To me, it’s not right. Even 22 years isn’t a trade for a life. I just hope he serves every year of it.

“Chanelle also got a light sentence. She provoked most of what happened and if they hadn’t been arguing over that bar of chocolate my Billy would probably be here.

“Now that the sentence has been handed down, I finally feel able to properly grieve. In a couple of weeks the family are going to come to Edinburgh and then we’ll take Billy’s ashes up north.

“Today, I had a real cry. I sat down and really thought about what has happened and what I’ve lost.”

McArdle and Barrett were sentenced yesterday at Dunfermline High Court.

Judge Michael O’Grady said: “It seems almost beyond belief that a trivial dispute over a bar of chocolate could lead to one man dead and one man struggling for his life. It was an attack that was vicious, sustained and cowardly.”

Referring to Barrett, he added: “You played a disturbing role in these events. It is clear you were the source of much of the dispute and aggression that day.”

McArdle was said to have shown “not a flicker of concern” after the attack.

Mrs McPhee said: “Even if they had apologised, I wouldn’t have accepted it. The biggest sorry in the world wouldn’t make this right.”

The pair were attacked at Castleview House on January 11.

The brawl developed into violence upon McArdle’s arrival, spilling outside and then into the common stair.

Police were called and Mr McPhee was found on the tenth floor, where he had passed away as a result of stab injuries.

Detective Inspector Gary Cunningham, who led the murder investigation, said: “It is my hope that today’s sentences bring some comfort to Mr McPhee’s family, who have carried themselves with dignity during what has been an extremely difficult period.”