Killer cleared of vicious cell attack on drugs mule

A KILLER who was jailed for stabbing to death a rival gang member has been cleared of a savage attack on a Mexican drug mule in Saughton Prison.

Billy Brown, who was sentenced to seven years for the culpable homicide of 17-year-old Steven Lennon, was accused of repeatedly striking Noe Machado, a drug courier who was caught with £1 million of cocaine at Edinburgh Airport.

Machado, 42, was left with blood pouring from a head wound moments after 23-year-old Brown and two other men were caught on CCTV entering his cell.

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But the prosecution against Brown was dropped after Sheriff Paul Arthurson QC agreed with a defence motion that their was no case to answer due to a lack of evidence.

Prosecutors were unable to call Machado as a witness as he had already been released from prison and deported back to Mexico.

Brown was returned to jail to complete his sentence following the ruling at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

Prison officer John Short had told the trial how he spotted Machado with “blood streaming down the left side of his face” while on guard duty at around 3pm on November 2 last year.

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Mr Short pushed the emergency button to call in other prison officers to lock 80 inmates from the fourth-floor landing in their cells while an investigation was launched to find whoever was behind the alleged assault.

Mr Short said a check of CCTV, which was later shown to the jury, showed Machado returning to his cell after a game of football. He said that the footage also showed Brown and two other men enter the cell before Machado emerged with a head wound moments later.

In December 2005, Brown, formerly of Calder Gardens, admitted killing Mr Lennon with a lock knife during a struggle in Sighthill Green. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide after a previous murder trial was halted.

The court had heard how on the evening of July 29, 2005 groups of youths from Broomhouse and Sighthill had chatted in the streets in an attempt to put aside their differences.

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Brown, then 16, and his victim, of Murrayburn Gardens, were said to have even shaken hands.

But Brown returned to the scene in Sighthil Green at around 11pm that night, demanded a “square go” with Mr Lennon then stabbed him in the stomach.

Mr Lennon retaliated with a metal pole, striking Brown at least four times around the head and shoulders, before being fatally stabbed in the heart.

In November 2008, Machado flew into Edinburgh Airport with his wife and four children, but was stopped by customs officers for a random check as he went through the “Nothing to Declare” channel. A total of 16kg of the Class A drug were recovered, the biggest single haul of cocaine in the Lothians.

He was jailed for four years and eight months in January 2009.