Glasgow & West Scotland

Murderer Graeme McLaren impaled James Small on walking stick

A 47-year-old man who impaled his neighbour with a walking stick has been found guilty of murder.

Graeme McLaren attacked James Small in the 64-year-old's flat in Greenock, on 5 June, after allegedly seeing him semi-naked with a female friend.

The High Court in Glasgow heard Mr Small suffered damage to his bowel and liver after his metal stick was rammed 12 inches into his body.

McLaren faces a mandatory life term when he is sentenced at a later date.

Temporary judge Rita Rae QC described the unprovoked attack on Mr Small as "motiveless".

Brutal murder

She told McLaren: "It's difficult to comprehend the level of brutality that must have been involved in inflicting serious injuries on a defenceless old man."

During his trial, McLaren denied attacking his neighbour and claimed someone else must have got hold of the walking stick which was found stained with the victim's blood.

He told the jury he had gone to Mr Small's home that night and found him in a state of undress with a woman he knew.

McLaren insisted, however, that he later left the flat and had not harmed Mr Small.

The jury heard how the 64-year-old was found dead in his flat on 9 June.

His walking stick was eventually discovered in nearby bushes with the victim's blood on it.

McLaren said the last time he saw the stick was when he dumped it at bins at his home because it was "knackered" and "always rattling".

His defence counsel Thomas Ross asked when it was thrown away, did it have any blood on it. McLaren replied: "Not that I am aware of."

The court heard from Pathologist Dr Julie McAdam who was asked how much force would have been needed to cause the internal injuries suffered by Mr Small.

She replied: "It would have been considerable force. It would have been a forceful blow."

Survivable injuries

She added: "It would have been extremely painful."

Dr McAdam told the court that the injuries would have been survivable if medical attention had been sought, but it would have been a major operation as the bowel and the liver were pierced.

The trial also heard of a phone call McLaren made after being remanded in Low Moss prison for the murder.

He told a friend that he was "sick in the head" - but claimed in court the remark was just "banter".

McLaren also said it was "blatant lies" that he had confessed to a man about attacking Mr Small.

The jury did not believe him and unanimously convicted him of murder.

As he was taken downstairs to the cells McLaren taunted Mr Small's family by making a crying gesture towards them.

Judge Rae who saw this said: "He made a gesture to the family of the dead man which is perhaps a reflection of the level of remorse he feels. To do that to the family is appalling."

The judge will decide at a later date how long McLaren must serve in prison before he can apply for parole.

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