Blade killer had 'obsessive hatred' of man he murdered outside Edinburgh City FC’s social club

A killer who cultivated an ‘obsessive hatred’ of his ex wife’s new lover has failed to overturn his murder conviction.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 4:45 pm

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Paul Smith, 44, was jailed for life for of murdering Andrew McCarron,49, outside Edinburgh City FC’s social club in July 2019.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard Smith pushed a knife six inches into Mr McCarron's throat .

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Victim: Andy McCarron whose murder close to Edinburgh City Social Club was captured in harrowing CCTV images
Victim: Andy McCarron whose murder close to Edinburgh City Social Club was captured in harrowing CCTV images

The attack happened moments after Mr McCarron tried to intervene when Smith went after his ex-wife's partner at Edinburgh City FC's social club.

Smith had gone out armed with a knife after months of sending threatening texts to his ex-wife, Nicola Johnstone, about her new partner Jamie Bell.

He developed an "obsessive hatred" of Mr Bell and a disturbance broke out when he went to the club where the Bell family were enjoying a night out on July 21 2019.

During proceedings last year, jurors also heard electrician Mr McCarron was engaged to Mr Bell's mother Catherine.

Lawyers for Smith believed lodged an appeal on their client’s behalf at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh claiming he had suffered a miscarriage of justice.

Defence advocate Fred Mackintosh QC told judges Lord Carloway, Lord Pentland Lord Malcolm that their colleague Lord Burns had made an error during Smith’s trial.

He said Lord Burns acted incorrectly in failing to allow jurors to consider that Smith had been provoked into stabbing Mr McCarron.

Mr Mackintosh said that evidence available during the trial could show that Smith was provoked into attacking Mr McCarron. He said this would have entitled the jurors to return a guilty verdict to the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

But the appeal court rejected the arguments after hearing from prosecutor Roddy Dunlop QC about how the jury were entitled to find Smith guilty of murder.

Lord Carloway said: “The court is entirely satisfied that no reasonable jury could have returned a verdict of culpable homicide on the basis of provocation in this case.”

On Thursday, Mr Mackintosh said evidence in the case showed that in the moments before the fatal assault, Mr McCarron issued death threats to Smith. He said this would have entitled jurors to conclude that Smith was provoked into attacking Mr McCarron.

However, Mr Dunlop said that Smith’s actions were “grossly disproportionate”.

He added: “To say there is a degree of proportionality between shouts and threats of that nature by a man who is holding his arms out; he is evidently unarmed - to say it is a proportionate reaction when a concealed knife is pulled out and plunged 15.5 centimetres into the neck severing major arteries and the like - that is simply untenable proposition. “One could not get a more clear example of a grossly disproportionate reaction.

“There is no realistic possibility that a reasonable jury - looking at the evidence as a whole would heave return a verdict to a charge other than murder.”

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