Couple who killed Colin Skilbeck handed jail sentences

A NEWLY-wed couple who attacked a neighbour by stabbing him to death and throwing boiling water and sugar over him have been jailed for more than 20 years.

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 11:42 am
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 11:47 am
Colin Skilbeck.

Rene Howieson, 37, and Kathleen Downey, 35, attacked Colin Skilbeck when he answered the door to the flat below at Gibson Terrace, Edinburgh, that he shared with Downey’s sister’s ex partner.

The relationship ended, and the pair “did not part on good terms”.

The court heard Downey was shown a threatening note written by her sister’s ex.

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Mr Skilbeck’s flatmate Jason Hamilton had warned him not to answer the door to the pair - and when he did, he was attacked and killed.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Howieson pled guilty to murdering Mr Skilbeck on March 12, last year by throwing the solution in his face and repeatedly striking him with a knife.

Downey later pled guilty to culpable homicide on the basis of diminished responsibility.

She admitted killing Mr Skilbeck by throwing the water and sugar at him and striking him with the knife.

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Armstrong jailed Howieson for life, with a minimum of 14 years and two months behind bars.

He sentenced Downey - who has been diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder - to five years and three months.

He told them: “I have no doubt Mr Skilbeck’s family and friends have been deeply affected by this and nothing I can say or do can compensate for their loss.”

The judge added that Mr Skilbeck served as the victim and “his misfortune was to be one of two occupants of the flat who answered the door”.

He suffered nine knife wounds in the brutal attack at his Edinburgh home, with one penetrating his heart.

The court heard earlier that Howieson had turned up at the flat door armed with a knife and Downey had a kitchen pan filled with the boiling sugar solution.

Advocate depute Steven Borthwick said: “Kathleen Downey threw the pan of sugar and water into the face of Mr Silbeck.”

“Rene Howieson struck the deceased repeatedly to the body with the knife.

“At some point in the course of the incident Kathleen Downey was handed the knife by her co-accused and also struck the deceased with it.”

After hearing a disturbance, Mr Hamilton went to see what was happening at the door.

Mr Borthwick added: “He found Colin Skilbeck collapsing onto the ground, clutching his chest. There was a great deal of blood coming from wounds on his chest.”

The flatmate made a 999 call and police arrived and began performing CPR on the victim until an ambulance crew arrived.

An emergency medical consultant was summoned, but despite every effort being made to save him the victim died.

Downey and Howieson left the property and were seen throwing items into the nearby Union Canal. They were traced to a house in the city’s Rankin Drive and when Downey was detained she asked: “Is he dead?”

Brian McConnachie QC, for Downey, also known as Downey-Howieson said she had suffered traumatic incidents throughout her life.

He said she “deeply regrets the taking of a human life”.

Ian Duguid, defence QC for Howieson said: “Mr Howieson has had time to reflect on the incident and appreciates Mr Skilbeck not having been the intended victim, has lost his life in tragic circumstances.”