Ex-soldier jailed for murdering best friend with dumbbell

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image captionKyle McAuley told the High Court in Glasgow he had found a stranger dying at the front door of his flat

A man has been jailed for life for bludgeoning his best friend to death with a dumbbell.

Kyle McAuley attacked father-of-three Kevin McCluskey, 28, at a flat in Nelson Street, Greenock.

A jury last month rejected the former soldier's claim that he acted in self-defence in the early hours of 24 March last year.

At the High Court in Glasgow Judge Lord Mulholland ordered McAuley, 30, to spend at least 18 years in prison.

McAuley clubbed Mr McCluskey over the head five times with a dumbbell and then as he lay dead or dying took photographs of his body and sent them to two women.

'Web of lies'

He then laughed during a 999 call in which he claimed he had come home and found a stranger lying outside his flat.

Lord Mulholland told McAuley it would be for the parole board to decide if he was ever released.

He added: "You have been convicted of murdering your friend. You bludgeoned him with a dumbbell weighing seven kilos and hit him five times. While he lay dying you cared only for yourself.

"You photographed his dead or dying body and sent photos to your ex-partner and your then girlfriend.

"You moved his body and tried to make it look as if he had a knife and you had killed him in self-defence, but the jury saw through your web of lies."

Photographed body

The court heard Mr McCluskey was hit on the back of the head with the dumbbell by McAuley then fell onto a bed.

He was then repeatedly struck with the weight.

As Mr McCluskey lay on his back on the bed dead or dying, McAuley took a photograph of him and sent it to his then girlfriend.

Fifty minutes later, after moving the body onto the floor of the bedroom, the killer took another photo and sent it to his former partner.

This photograph showed Mr McCluskey's face covered in blood and with horrific injuries.

At 05:40 McAuley made a 999 call but when police arrived at his flat the body had been moved into the hallway and his victim's feet were on the landing.

The killer initially claimed to police he did not know Mr McCluskey but later told officers he was acting in self defence as his friend came at him with a knife.

But, McAuley admitted that he had already punched his friend on the head and struck him once with the dumbbell before he claimed he saw a knife in his hand.

Self defence claim

Mr McCluskey suffered a fractured skull, broken cheekbones, jaw and nose and bruising to the brain.

Former soldier McAuley, who served in Afghanistan in the Scots Guards, had no injuries.

Hours earlier, CCTV footage showed the two friends play fighting and laughing and joking in a Greenock pub during a night out.

No explanation was put forward as to why father-of-two McAuley launched the frenzied attack in the early hours of the next morning.

He was convicted of murdering Mr McCluskey, then taking photographs of his body and sending them to his the girlfriend and his ex-partner and attempting to pervert the course of justice by moving his victim's body and placing a knife near it.

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