A GANGLAND killer once given a record sentence was caught with “a large pile” of heroin in his Edinburgh prison cell.
James McDonald was snared when guards at HMP Edinburgh seized the drug haul in April this year.
McDonald later went on to headbutt a prison officer who stepped in to break-up a fight with other inmates.
That led to the 44-year-old being hauled back into the dock at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday.
It was there, in 2008, that the hitman was locked up for a minimum 35 years for his part in a underworld shooting against the Lyons crime clan.
The sentence McDonald and fellow assassin Raymond Anderson received was later cut to 30 years.
But, his lawyer yesterday told Judge Lady Stacey there continues to be “difficulty” accepting how long he will spend behind bars.
It did not stop McDonald receiving another jail-term as he was sentenced to two years and ten months for assault and being concerned in the supply of heroin.
The killer showed no emotion as he was taken handcuffed back to the cells.
Prosecutor Duncan McPhie said McDonald was found with the drugs during a “morning check” by guards on April 21.
A total of 28 wraps of heroin were found in his cell as well as a “large pile” of the substance on top of a calendar.
The court heard the haul had a potential “prison value” of up to £5,000. McDonald remained at HMP Edinburgh and later assaulted guard Stephen Myatt on June 16.
The killer got into a row with other prisoners and headbutted the officer when he attempted to split them up.
Mr McPhie: “He was restrained and moved to the segregation unit.
“While there, he apologised for the assault.”
McDonald earlier made headlines after being found guilty of the murder of Michael Lyons and the shooting of two other men at Applerow Motors in Glasgow’s Possil in 2006.
Lady Stacey noted McDonald had racked up convictions since being jailed for life.
This included being sentenced to nine years last December for the attempted murder of another prisoner.
His advocate Frances Connor told the judge: “He has a significant tariff to the life sentence.
“As a result, there has been real difficulties coming to terms with the length of the sentence.
“He has become a target from others within the prison system.
“He accepts that things do become hopeless for him on occasion, but that there really is no option but getting on with it.”
McDonald is now in Glenochil jail.
McDonald had yesterday also been accused of assaulting Raymond Cartwright – another killer – in HMP Edinburgh as well as hitting Eric Fiddler with a guitar.
A further allegation he illegally had a mobile phone, saw a not guilty please accepted.