Darren Murphy guilty of killing John Morrison in Glasgow
- 20 December 2013
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
A man has been convicted of killing a former East Dunbartonshire council leader days before Christmas last year.
Darren Murphy, 25, punched 50-year-old John Morrison on the head in Dunlop Street, Glasgow, on 22 December, causing him to fall over.
Mr Morrison died after striking his head on the ground. Murphy left him in the street to go to a nightclub.
He claimed to have acted in self defence but was convicted of culpable homicide at the High Court in Glasgow.
Murphy's bail was continued at the High Court in Glasgow until sentencing in January.
Mr Morrison - the former Lib-Dem leader of East Dunbartonshire Council - was attacked in the early hours of 22 December last year.
The lawyer had earlier been on a festive night out with colleagues from Glasgow City Council, where he worked as a legal manager.
His friend and work-mate Jennifer McMartin told the jury: "He was in really good form that night.
"He said he was in a good place in his life both professionally and personally having met his partner David."
The court was shown CCTV of footage of Mr Morrison later in the city's Argyle Street close to the St Enoch Centre.
Murphy and his friends were in the same area heading to the Arches Nightclub.
Friend Samantha Mulgrew claimed during the trial that Mr Morrison, of Milngavie, suddenly appeared next to her mumbling, which gave her a "fright".
For some reason, Murphy and his group then turned on the solicitor.
CCTV showed the group heading towards him before one pushed Mr Morrison as he appeared to be walking away.
Seconds later - and out of shot - 6ft 1in tall Murphy then punched Mr Morrison in the face.
Murphy then carried on to the nightclub.
Mr Morrison died in the street despite medics coming to his aid.
The ferocity of the blow had also broken his eye socket and nose.
Murphy's friend Ms Mulgrew later told police that he had landed a "proper punch" on the ex-council leader.
But, during the trial, Murphy, of the city's Bridgeton area, denied he had punched Mr Morrison - instead claiming he had "hit him with a palm" to get him away.
Murphy insisted he had "felt threatened" by Mr Morrison that night.
His QC Donald Findlay asked: "There was an implication that this was you being cowardly...that a fair reflection of events?" Murphy denied that.
Murphy then claimed he did not know Mr Morrison was seriously hurt at the time - but when he later discovered he died he "felt sick".
Prosecutor Paul Kearney said the killer had lied during evidence adding: "You went back to sort out Mr Morrison and punched him." Murphy replied: "No."
The court also heard Murphy demanded friend Graeme Thomson did not say to police he had punched the lawyer.
Murphy told the jury: "Those words did not cross my mouth."
Murphy will be sentenced next month after temporary judge Norman Ritchie QC adjourned the case for reports.
The judge told him: "May I say at this stage that it is plain your character before this was a good one - but I have not been impressed with your conduct since this time.
"Your friends appeared to have tried to cover up for you and your lack of frankness continued in your evidence."
First offender Murphy cried at the verdict while at least two female jurors also broke down.
A large group of Mr Morrison's family - including his partner of five years David Evans - were seen sobbing as the killer was convicted.
One said as she left the courtroom: "That's justice for John."