Killer who fatally stabbed Edinburgh Army recruit bit prison officer in cell switch row

A lifer sunk his teeth into a prison officer’s arm while jail staff fought to restrain him, a court heard.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:09 pm

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Convicted murderer James Demarco reacted violently after he was asked to move to a new cell in Addiewell Prison, West Lothian.

Prison officers implemented a 'control and restrain' tactic to physically force him to obey their instructions.

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Blade killer Demarco

But during the violent struggle killer Demarco bit custody officer Colin Latta on the bicep, causing an open wound which needed hospital treatment.

Demarco, 31, was flanked by four prison officers in full riot gear and handcuffed to one of the escort team when he appeared virtually at Livingston Sheriff Court via a video link from the prison.

Representing himself, bearded Demarco pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Latta by biting him on the body during the incident in November 2019.

He also admitted behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by shouting threats of violence towards prison staff.

His denial that he tried to incite other prisoners to attack the prison officers while they were holding him down was accepted by the Crown.

Mairi Graham, prosecuting, said that Demarco had made it clear to staff he was not changing cell as instructed.

She said: “He became abusive towards prison staff.

"The accused continued to refuse to relocate himself and a code word was implemented and a ‘control and restrain’ initiated.

"The accused was taken to the ground by a number of officers.

“During that the accused bit witness Latta to his upper left arm causing an open wound to his bicep area.

“First aid was administered, however he did have to be taken to hospital for treatment to the wound.

"It’s not clear if there will be any lasting damage.”

Ms Graham said the control and restraint episode had been captured on the prison’s closed circuit TV system.

As a result of Demarco’s violent outburst the prison authorities stripped him of all privileges for 10 days.

Demarco told the court that he had already been punished by spending time in segregation. He said his life sentence, imposed in December 2007, comprised a punishment part of 17 years followed by a further 14 years if he is not granted parole. His earliest release date is currently set at 18 September 2024.

Sheriff Susan Craig told him: “You’ll understand that the only thing I can do is impose a custodial sentence on you.”

She sentenced him to nine months imprisonment, to run concurrently with his life term.

She said she had discounted the maximum 12 month summary sentence by three months because of his early guilty plea at an intermediate diet.

Demarco, formerly of Pilton, Edinburgh, was 17 when he knifed Army recruit Jamie Ewart, 18, to death at a house party in Edinburgh in 2006.

He severed three vital organs in Jamie’s neck with a single blow from a blade.

Demarco had earlier been bailed for three violent crimes – including a knife attack in which his victim lost an eye and another attack in which a dog was set on a police officer.

Appeal Court judges rejected an attempt by Demarco to have his 15-year minimum term reduced the following year – because he had used a knife.

He was later given an extra 45 months for ordering a machete ‘hit’ from his prison cell during which he listened to the victim’s screams on a phone.

Demarco, then 18, called James Paxton from Saughton prison and told him to "stab f*** out" of someone called "G".

Paxton attacked the wrong person because the victim shared the nickname with another man who had gone out with an ex-girlfriend of Demarco.

The horrifying call was recorded and Demarco was heard laughing as Paxton said: "I just sliced and diced wi' ma machete. I couldnae find ma sword or it is goin' right through him."

Paxton was later sentenced to 11 years and three months for his role in the revenge attack.

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