The heartbroken best friend of an Edinburgh carer who was beaten to death has told of how he is struggling to move on after losing a “brother”.
Mark Squires was leaving a fundraiser for a close pal who had recently died when Nico Allan, 24, set about him with a vodka bottle leaving him with fatal head injuries outside a pub in Longstone in what police called a “senseless and unprovoked attack”.
Allan was sentenced to life imprisonment but could be out of jail in 12 years – a verdict labelled as “disgusting” by the family who have been ripped apart following the 44-year-old’s brutal death.
Charlie Murray, who was with Mark when the pair were attacked in October last year, told the Evening News that he is a broken man and still blames himself for his best friend’s death. The 46-year-old said: “It was devastating. I was grabbed by the legs and the hair while he was getting beaten.
“I couldn’t gather myself when I made the 999 call and had to hand the phone to someone else. I had to give him CPR, doing that for around 12 minutes until the ambulance came.
“I spent four months in bed after it happened.
“We did absolutely everything together since we were nine years old.
“I’ve not been well at all because I can’t forgive myself because he was with me and I normally looked after him. I suggested to get a takeaway which is why we were walking in that direction. I keep thinking ‘what if we went another way?’ It’s so hard to not blame yourself.
“This is not justice for Mark, no way. Mark had done nothing that night. We’d just raised £4,000 in memory of a friend and he was never in bother.
“Life has just been terrible since. Mark used to phone me every day. I’m heartbroken and I can’t seem to move forward. I feel like I have lost a brother.”
Mark, who was a full-time carer to his mum Chrissy, suffered “innumerable” face fractures and a cardiac arrest after he was beaten, kicked, stamped and smashed over the head with the booze bottle.
He was rushed to hospital where he died several hours later after his condition deteriorated.
Nico Allan had denied murdering Mr Squires in October 2017 but was convicted at Edinburgh High Court last month. His co-accused, Aiden Welsh, 25, was acquitted of murder after a jury returned a not proven verdict.
A third man, Liam Tierney, 21, had also faced a murder charge but was acquitted during the trial. The court heard that Mr Squires had “done nothing to warrant” the attack.
The devastated family have told of how they are struggling to come to terms with the loss of popular Mark.
Brother Colin Squires said the night of Mark’s death was a rare opportunity to get a family picture, which will now be cherished forever with it being their final photo together.
Colin added: “This is no justice for my brother. His death has affected all of us and we’re all devastated. I’ve not really grieved for him still as I’m trying to be strong for my family.
“He was such a popular guy with hundreds at the funeral. A five minute trip to the shop would take an hour with him because he knew everyone.
“We’ve been through so much with our dad dying just six or seven weeks beforehand.
“My sister Susan has a shrine in her house for Mark with pictures and his ashes. We’re just trying to get by but we miss him so much.”
On sentencing, Lord Tyre told Allan: “You committed an extremely violent attack which was both unnecessary and unprovoked. The injuries sustained by Mr Squires speak eloquently of the severity of this pointless attack. It remains a mystery to me how you, a man with no previous record of offending, could in such a short space of time commit an act of such vicious and reckless violence.
“By your actions you have deprived a 44-year-old man of what ought to have been the remaining years of his life. You have also deprived the members of his family of his love, companionship and support.
“You have also deprived yourself of the time that you could have spent with your partner as a young couple bringing up a family.”
Det Ch Insp Dave Pinkney of the Major Investigation Team said: “We welcome the sentence today of Nico Allan and our thoughts and condolences remain with Mark’s friends and family.
“The senseless and brutal actions of Allan caused horrific injuries to Mark that he was ultimately unable to recover from. We will work tirelessly along with our colleagues at COPFS to ensure violent offenders are removed from our communities.”