Glasgow & West Scotland

Man who killed friend over rap song jailed for two years

Ryan Watson Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Ryan Watson died after suffering a brain injury and damage to a vital artery.

A man who killed a friend after taking offence to an improvised rap song about his girlfriend has been jailed for two years.

Kirk Nolan, 28, killed Ryan Watson, 24, by punching him on the face and neck at a flat in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, on 11 August.

The judge said a "life had been taken" but the level of "criminality" was at "the lower end of the scale".

He said he could have spared Nolan jail but for his violent past.

Lord Boyd said: "The circumstances are all the more tragic because the mechanism of the death is most unusual."

The defence advocate said the type of blow landed by Nolan would normally have resulted in no injury.

He said it could almost be described as "freak consequences".

The court heard how the two men, who were from Larkhall, had spent the day in "good spirits" renovating the garden of Nolan's uncle.

Along with other friends, they later went to the flat of Nolan's girlfriend.

Singing along

It is believed the gathering was to remember a friend who had recently died in a car accident.

The court was told that Mr Watson's pregnant girlfriend, Devina Beggs, was also there but she left at about 23:00.

Prosecutor Bruce Erroch said Nolan and Mr Watson were in the living room "singing along to music" together and doing what one witness described as "this rapping kind of thing".

He added: "Ryan was improvising words to a 'rap' including words about Nolan's girlfriend which he found offensive."

The court heard the men then "grappled head-to-head" with each other.

The advocate depute said: "In the course of that altercation, Nolan pushed Ryan forcefully once to the left face and neck area.

"This caused him to twist and fall face first onto the sofa."

Massive brain injury

The court was told that Mr Watson's lips turned blue and his eyes began rolling. One woman shouted Ryan was "fitting" and started giving him first aid.

In a 999 call, she went on to state: "I've got an epileptic who's had a wee bit of an argument with his friend. He has passed out and he's turned blue."

Mr Watson was rushed to hospital, but did not recover.

The court heard he suffered a "massive" brain injury as well as damage to a vital artery "typically associated with a blow to the head or neck".

Pathologists stated Ryan had been the victim of "significant blunt force trauma" consistent with having been pushed "forcefully".

The court was also told Nolan had been "visibly upset" when discussing the incident.

Nolan showed no emotion as he was lead handcuffed to the cells.

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