TWO men who killed a teenager in the first murder case in the Western Isles for more than 40 years have been jailed for at least 18 years each.
• Jonathan MacKinnon and Stefan Millar, both 22, jailed for life for murder of Liam Aitchison
• Pair had killed Liam and left his body in abandoned property on November 23, 2011
Liam Aitchison, 16, was found dead in a derelict building in the Steinish area of Stornoway on Lewis in November 2011.
The teenager, who would have celebrated his 18th birthday this month, had been struck on the head and body with a knife and bottle, and had his head stamped on repeatedly, during what police called a “senseless and sustained” attack.
Johnathan MacKinnon and Stefan Millar, both 22, denied murder, but were found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this month.
Passing sentence yesterday, judge Lord Kinclaven handed both killers life sentences, as required by law, and ordered them to spend at least 18 years behind bars before they can be considered for release.
“You have both been convicted by verdict of the jury of the most serious of crimes – the crime of murder,” he told the pair during a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh.
“This was the brutal murder of a young man who was only 16 years of age.”
Liam’s relatives said the killers were “getting off lightly”, and insisted that life imprisonment should mean life.
Speaking outside court, the victim’s stepmother, Claire Aitchison, 39, said: “Nothing that happened in court today can change what happened and nothing can bring back Liam, our crazy diamond.
“We are happy that justice has been done and that these two brutal murderers will spend a long time in prison.
“We believe, however, that they are getting off lightly. Life imprisonment should mean life.
“They killed an innocent boy in cold blood, but by the time they leave jail they will still be young enough to make plans for the rest of their lives.”
The family also thanked the police for their work in bringing the case to court.
Ms Aitchison was accompanied by Liam’s father, Norrie, as she gave her statement.
Liam, originally from South Uist, believed the killers were his friends. He worked and socialised with Millar and MacKinnon after he moved to Stornoway.
But the pair beat and stabbed the teenager on 23 November, 2011, then left him to die in the remote derelict building. His body was discovered several days later.
Lord Kinclaven said he had borne in mind everything that was said on behalf of the two men, including references to their ages when the crime was committed and the fact they had supportive networks around them.
Their previous encounters with the law were all at summary level, prompting the judge to say the current case marked an “escalation” in the level of their offending.
He told MacKinnon: “You robbed Liam Aitchison of his life and have clearly devastated the lives of his family and many others.”
Statements from Liam’s relatives outlined the emotional and psychological impact of the crime and the grief and anguish caused, the judge said.