A VIOLENT offender who stabbed a Scottish piper to death in a village street, just three months after he was released from custody, has been jailed for life.
Luke Elliott, 22, was ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years for murdering Scottish teenager Craig Hepburn in Marsden, West Yorkshire, in a frenzied
attack described as “random and spontaneous” by the judge, and carried out for no apparent reason.
His co-accused, Anthony Driver – who has 54 convictions for 128 offences including violent knife crime – was found guilty of the 19-year-old’s manslaughter and jailed for 13 years.
Mr Hepburn, a talented piper, suffered severe internal injuries and died soon after he was stabbed, jurors heard during a five-week trial.
He had arrived in the West Yorkshire village hours earlier to visit his uncle with a friend Connor Paton, also 19, who was also stabbed but survived by “sheer good luck”, probably because he was wearing a thick padded jacket, said the judge.
Mr Hepburn, from Linwood, near Paisley, played with the First Scottish Milngavie Pipe Band and had entertained locals in Marsden hours before the killing unfolded.
Both Elliott and Driver were on licence for serious offences when they killed Mr Hepburn, Leeds Crown Court heard.
Elliott had been recently released from a young offenders’ institution where he was being held for actual bodily harm, while Driver, 38, had been jailed for wounding with intent but freed seven to eight months before he killed Mr Hepburn.
After Mr Hepburn was stabbed 11 times with a lock-knife and left for dead in a pool of blood, Elliott boasted to friends that he believed he had killed a man. Driver, meanwhile, was photographed “partying” soon after the attack. Elliott, who has nine previous convictions, some for violent crime, was also found guilty of his attempted murder.
Both young men had travelled from their home in
Linwood, near Paisley, Renfrewshire, and were approached by Elliott and Driver as they walked back from a night out on Friday, 6 July, last year.
“They were looking forward to an enjoyable stay with Craig’s uncle,” Mrs Justice Lang said as she sentenced the defendants yesterday. “They spent a happy evening in the pubs and bars of Marsden meeting local people.”
She said Mr Hepburn played some tunes on his bagpipes, adding, “people gathered around him clapping and cheering” before the two friends headed back to his uncle’s house.
“As they walked through the quiet streets you, Driver, and you, Elliott, came up behind them and soon picked a fight about nothing.”
Both victims, who had been drinking and were clearly not local, were “deliberately targeted”. As Mr Paton continued walking, Mr Hepburn was punched and stabbed, jurors were told. He returned to help and was knifed three times.
“It was a frenzied attack on a defenceless man,” Mrs Justice Lang added.
Mr Hepburn’s family said they were robbed of seeing their son “grow into the young man he could have been.”.