Glasgow man jailed for 25 years for sword murder

The murder took place at a house in the Knightswood area of Glasgow. Picture: contributed
The murder took place at a house in the Knightswood area of Glasgow. Picture: contributed
Share this article
Have your say

A MAN who carried out a brutal murder with a sword and then set fire to his victim’s body has been told that he will serve at least 25 years in jail.

Derek Telford, 31, inflicted more than 30 wounds on James Kerr, 34, including some after death. He also hacked off an ear and shouted: “Can you hear me now?”

A court heard that Telford was “not bothered” when he saw reports of the killing on television, and had even laughed.

Lord Brailsford jailed Telford, of Glasgow, for life and set 25 years as the minimum term he must serve before he became eligible for parole.

It is among the longest sentences in Scotland for murder, where a “standard” minimum term would be around 14 years.

Alexina Lavery, 60, of Renfrew, the dead man’s mother, welcomed the sentence. She said: “I was really, really pleased. No length of sentence will ever bring my son back, but at least Telford is off the streets and it will save some other mother going through what we have been through.”

She explained that the family had believed Mr Kerr had died in a fire, possibly falling asleep with a cigarette in his hand, until it was established after several days that he had been murdered.

Lord Brailsford said the murder, at Mr Kerr’s home in the Knightswood area of Glasgow in April last year, had been “extremely violent” and committed by someone with an “atrocious” record for serious assaults.

Telford’s former partner, Lorraine Callaghan, 40, was jailed for two years for attempting to defeat the ends of justice by helping him to clean up blood, set fire to Mr Kerr’s body and threaten a witness.

It was said she had been “in mortal fear” of Telford.

A trial was told that Telford had gone to Mr Kerr’s home to buy drugs, but they had a disagreement and Telford launched a merciless attack.

Mr Kerr’s body was set alight after his birth certificate had been thrown on to it. Telford and Callaghan were seen kissing on closed circuit television soon after the murder.

Telford denied having been in the flat and said he had no reason to kill Mr Kerr, someone he had not known very well.

However, Callaghan gave evidence that she and Telford had been in the flat, but she left. She alleged Telford confessed to her.

“He said he got Jamie to the floor and stabbed him in the heart. He told me he was trying to cut his head off and slash his face with one of the swords,” she stated.

Callaghan added that Telford had laughed when the murder was reported on television.

The defence counsel, Dale Hughes, said Telford maintained a “robust denial”. He had suffered a dysfunctional upbringing when he was exposed to violence by his father on his mother, and was taken into care at the age of eight and placed in 14 separate homes over the years.

Maurice Smyth, for Callaghan, said the background to her involvement was a “toxic relationship blighted by her partner’s drug addiction.”

Lord Brailsford said the murder had involved an extremely violent attack on Mr Kerr in his own home.

“More than 30 stab wounds were inflicted to the head, neck and torso. Some of these wounds were likely to have been inflicted after the unfortunate victim had died,” added the judge.

Telford had been on licence from an earlier prison sentence, and his atrocious record included two convictions in the High Court for violent offences.

“I do acknowledge you had a difficult upbringing and that was not your fault. You refuse to acknowledge your guilt and consequently show no remorse or insight into the effect on others of your offending behaviour. I have to set a punishment part (minimum term) and having regard to the gravity of the offence, the nature and severity of the attack, your previous record and the risk you plainly pose to society, I set that period at 25 years,” said Lord Brailsford.