Glasgow & West Scotland

Boy detained for knife attack after Loyalist songs row

Livingston High Court Image copyright Google
Image caption Livingston High Court heard the murder bid was carried out at a house in Plains in December 2016

A schoolboy who knifed a man 30 times in a frenzied murder attempt after a row about Loyalist songs has been detained for six years.

The 17-year-old from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, claimed John Higgins, 38, attacked him first.

But a jury convicted the teenager of attempted murder and of attacking two people who went to his aid.

Mr Higgins' nephew, Patrick McCluskey, was assaulted and his then girlfriend Erin Rodger was stabbed in the thigh.

The teenager, who was 15 at the time and cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed he acted in self-defence because he thought Mr Higgins was going to kill his co-accused, Steven Elliot.

Savage attack

Elliott, 22, a former soldier, who served in the Scots Guards for four years, was cleared of attempted murder.

But he was found guilty of a reduced charge of assaulting Mr Higgins to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life by repeatedly punching and kicking him on the head and body.

Elliott was also convicted of assaulting Mr McCluskey but was cleared of the knife attack on Miss Rodger and jailed for three years.

The attack took place at a house in Plains, North Lanarkshire, in December 2016.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Beckett said: "You both set about a man who was too drunk and incapable of defending himself.

"I did not accept (teenager's) evidence that Mr Higgins may have had a small blade.

"That's refuted by Mr Higgins whose evidence I accepted."

Jaw 'caved in'

The judge told the teenager: "You were 15 when you attempted to murder Mr Higgins, you are still just 17."

During the trial, the teenager accepted he was solely responsible for inflicting four knife wounds to Mr Higgins' back and a further 23 to his legs.

Elliot told the jury that he did not have a knife at any stage.

Mr Higgins told the court he was "stabbed from head to toe" after being invited into Elliott's house to have a can of beer.

The injuries left him crippled.

His jaw was "caved in" as a result of the ferocious attack and he had to have metal plates screwed in to rebuild it.

Running street battle

Mr Higgins said he was unable to recall what his attackers looked like.

But he told the jury: "I'm sure one of them had a Rangers top on.

"It was a red football top."

The jury saw dramatic CCTV footage of the running street battle outside Elliott's house several times during the seven-day trial.

Defence counsel Tony Lenehan said his client had a good work record and asked the judge to take account of the jury's verdict that Mr Elliot did not use a weapon.

Geoffrey Forbes, representing the 17-year-old, said: "Through me, he seeks to apologise to Mr Higgins, Erin Rodger and Patrick McCluskey."

He said the teenager had expressed "empathy and insight".

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