At the end of a five day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh today, the jury of eight men and seven women found Garry Lockhart had strangled his 28-year old wife, Janet, and smothered his son, Michael, in the family home in South Chesters Lane, Bonnyrigg, on December 28 last year and murdered them.
Lockhart’s defence solicitor advocate, Brian Gilfedder, had offered a plea of guilty to murder in respect of Mrs Lockhart, but not guilty to his client’s murdering his son. claiming Lockhart been suffering from diminished responsibility due to an abnormality of mind and that he would plead guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide.This had been rejected by the Crown.
During the trial, the jury heard how Lockhart had returned home at 2 am having consumed six pints and a number of shorts. His blood alcohol level was three times over the drink drive limit. His wife, Janet, was due to go to work at 4 am and was concerned that he was in no fit state to look after Michael if he woke. There had been an argument and he strangled her.
After sitting beside her body for a while, he went upstairs to the main bedroom. He told the court: “I could not believe it happened. I didn’t believe it was real”. He explained that he believed in reincarnation and the after-life and was worried about what would happen to Michael with his mother dead and his father in jail and decided the only solution was to kill his son and then commit suicide. Advocate Depute, Iain McSporran QC asked him: “So you decided to end Michael’s earthly life so he could be with you and Janet”. Mr Gilfedder asked Lockhart: “So your thought process was solely directed to killing Michael so he could join Janet and you had not other alternative at that time”. “No” Lockhart replied.
Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Dr Andrew Wells, told the jury that although Lockhart was not suffering from mental disorder or illness, his decision-making appeared to have been substantially impaired and he could have been suffering an acute stress reaction due to his wife’s death.
Addressing the jury, the judge, Lady Wise told them there was only one verdict they could return on Charge 1 - the murder of his wife - but on the second charge, they could return a verdict of guilty of murder or culpable homicide. “Acquital is not open to you” she said.
After an absence of an hour and twenty minutes, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty to the murder of Janet Lockhart and a majority verdict of guilty to the murder of Michael.
Moving for sentence, the Advocate Depute said Lockhart had no previous convictions and had been in custody since December 31 last year. Mr McSporran paid tribute to Janet’s parents and Michael’s grandparents for the dignity they had shown throughout the extremely harrowing evidence in the case. “It is absolutely plain they simply cannot understand what happened on the morning of December 28 last year and the dreadful events to their beloved daughter and grandson”.
Lady Wise told Lockhart the only sentence for murder was life imprisonment, but she was calling for a Criminal Justice Social Work report to help determine the minimum term he would have to serve. The punishment part will be announced on October 16.