Drug-fuelled killers given life sentences

Andrew Moran and Paul Erskine were given life sentences. Picture: Bill Henry
Andrew Moran and Paul Erskine were given life sentences. Picture: Bill Henry
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Two drug-fuelled teenagers who killed two men in separate brutal attacks were given life sentences today.

Andrew Moran was ordered to serve at least 24 years in jail before he can seek release for the double murder he committed.

His accomplice Paul Erskine was told he would spend a minimum term of 22 years in prison for the murder of Steven Mitchell and the killing of pensioner Harry Reekie.

The pair, who had both been freed by courts on bail, carried out the slayings within a 36 hour period in the West Lothian town of Bathgate in September last year.

A judge told them at the High Court in Edinburgh that the cocktail of drink and drugs they had consumed may go some way to explaining their actions, but it in no way excused their crime.

Lord Kinclaven said: “There is no alternative to a life sentence. No other method of dealing with you is appropriate.”

The judge told them: “I have to bear in mind the whole circumstances of this tragic case.” He ordered that the pair be detained in a young offenders’ institution.

Erskine’s defence counsel Ian Duguid QC earlier told the court that the teenager had told a social worker that “he deserves everything that is coming to him”.

Moran, 19, was previously convicted of murdering Mr Reekie, 65, following an attack at his home in Lothian Street, Bathgate, on September 16 and murdering Mr Mitchell, 31, at an address in the town’s Marmion Road on September 16 or 17.

Erskine, 19, was found guilty of killing the pensioner and murdering Mr Mitchell.

The pair broke into Mr Reekie’s home. Tape was wrapped around his mouth and wrists and he was repeatedly struck with knives as he was threatened and robbed of £400, a bank card and phones.

The victim later died in January this year at the age of 66 after sustaining such serious injuries that he never returned to his home.

The killers used cash taken from the wounded victim to go on a designer shopping spree.

Mr Mitchell was then stabbed to death at a nearby house where bloody footprints from their new trainers were left behind.

During the fatal attack the victim was repeatedly struck with a knife or knives and a hammer or similar weapons. He was also hit on the head and body with a table.

Prosecutors maintained that both victims had exposed to “needless and grotesque” violence.

Their trial heard that Mr Reekie had moved to Scotland to help care for his terminally-ill brother.

He woke up to discover the intruders in his home after they had clambered in through a window. Moran initially ordered him to “sit there and shut up” before demanding £20,000.

Prosecutor Angela Gray said: “Harry Reekie told him he did not know what he was talking about.”

She said Moran’s response was to try and cut the victim’s ear off.

Mr Mitchell died from stab wounds to the chest and blunt force injuries inflicted in the attack upon him.

Mr Duguid said: “I understand this is the closing chapter in a very sad and tragic series of events in which two people lost their lives.”

He said that Erskine had admitted that he stabbed Mr Mitchell “through the heart”.

The defence counsel said: “He really has no explanation apart from the fact he was on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.”

He added that the teenager continued to express his remorse for the families of both men.

Tony Graham, counsel for Moran, said he left his family at the age of 15 “essentially to fend for himself and had had little boundaries in place ever since”. He had been using valium.