A MAN who murdered a teenage girl and tried to hack her body to pieces before hiding it in a cupboard was today jailed for 18 years.
Homeless Stuart Jack, 22, subjected vulnerable 19-year-old Laura Milne to a savage knife attack and killed her at an Aberdeen flat on December 12 last year.
His accomplices, Debbie Buchan, 19, and Leigh Mackinnon, 18, were sentenced to nine years and nine years four months respectively at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Judge Lord Woolman said the victim was subjected to a ferocious, sustained attack.
He said Miss Milne's injuries included fractures to her jaw and added: "Jack took up a knife and slashed her throat.
"A post-mortem showed that was the cause of Laura's death."
Miss Milne, who had learning difficulties, was killed at a flat on Union Street in the city centre.
After the death, Jack cut off one of the victim's ears and tried to hack off her head, legs and breast.
Just two days later, Jack was filmed gloating over the violent death and boasting how he enjoyed slitting her throat.
Jack previously admitted murder, while his co-accused admitted attempted murder.
All three admitted trying to defeat the ends of justice.
"It is not clear what triggered the awful chain of events which led to her murder," Lord Woolman said.
"None of the accused has given a coherent account."
Lord Woolman said: "It is difficult to comprehend the evil that lay behind this attack."
Addressing the three in the dock, he added: "None of you appears to appreciate fully what you have done."
He said Jack, who had been drinking on the day of the murder, had killed a defenceless young woman.
"You chose to drink the alcohol, you chose to take and use the knife. You then set about hacking this poor girl's body to bits.
"You appeared to revel in her death."
Jack, who the court heard had lived a nomadic and chaotic lifestyle, was told he would serve at least 18 years in jail.
His counsel, Donald Findlay QC, told the court he was at a loss to explain how he had been drawn into the fatal attack.
"It is the case he has been affected by what he has done," added Mr Findlay.
The court heard that Buchan was "embarrassed and ashamed" of her actions.
And the court was told Mackinnon had been an intelligent girl who had been enrolled on a college course before allowing drink and drugs to take control.
At the time of her death, Miss Milne was living at Stopover, a residential care home for young homeless people in Aberdeen.
She thought her attackers were her friends, but they turned on her in Buchan's flat just days before Christmas.
Miss Milne was in the bathroom of Buchan's Union Street flat when the gang kicked open the door, forcing her out.
They punched and kicked her on her head and body, forced her to the floor and stamped on her again and again.
Jack struck repeated blows with a knife to her head and body. He then tried to dismember Miss Milne before all three wrapped up the body and hid it in a kitchen cupboard, where it lay for some time.
The gang continued to come and go from the flat in the days following the savage attack.
The court previously watched a video showing Jack and Buchan discussing the attack. Jack was filmed saying he was glad Miss Milne was dead.
The video clip was recorded in the early hours of December 14 last year, on a SIM card taken from the dead girl's phone.
Buchan was recorded asking: "Did you enjoy cutting her throat, yes or no?"
"Aye," Jack boasted.
Buchan finished the clip by saying: "Thank you. Goodbye. You are the weakest link."
The court had heard that another clip was taken minutes later, in which Jack could be seen dancing, being egged on by Buchan.
Jack, Buchan and Mackinnon showed no emotion as they were led away to start their sentences.
In a statement issued through Grampian Police, Laura Milne's family criticised the length of the sentences handed down to Buchan and Mackinnon.
They said: "We are appalled that such a horrific crime has resulted in such a lenient sentence.
"They all played a part in Laura's death and, in our opinion, Debbie Buchan and Leigh Mackinnon should have had significantly higher sentences.
"We also want to put it on record that Debbie Buchan's apology is of no consequence to us and we hope their evil actions will always weigh heavily on their conscience."
They added: "Yet again the judicial system has let innocent victims down. It is no wonder we are experiencing increased levels of serious crime with the apparent lack of punishment.
"No sentence will ever bring Laura back to us or erase from our minds the memory of what they did to her.
"We will have to live with this for the rest of our lives – Debbie Buchan and Leigh Mackinnon could be out walking the streets again in just six years."