Man jailed for double killing at family vigil for teenager

A man has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering a woman and killing a man following a wake for a tragic teenager.

The case was heard at the High Court. Picture; Ian Georgeson
The case was heard at the High Court. Picture; Ian Georgeson

Robert Stratton,43, stabbed Julie McCash,43, and David Sorrie,32, following a February 2017 get together for the friends and family of Ralph Smith,18, in Dundee.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how pals of Ralph congregated at a house in the city’s Drumlanrig Drive in the early hours of February 26.

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They had gathered in the hope that Ralph, who had earlier fallen from cliffs in Arbroath, Angus, was still alive. His dead body was eventually discovered on nearby beach in March 2017.

However, the court heard how people at the party consumed alcohol and took illegal drugs. As the evening progressed, Stratton’s partner Lee Kinney got involved in an argument with fellow party goers.

The court heard how the Kinney was beaten up by fellow party goers in the street. She told the court that she was in fear of her life and had to run home.

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She said she was scared the people who had beaten her up were going to break into her house.

However, rather than wait for the police to arrive, the court heard that Stratton left the property armed with two kitchen knives.

He stabbed Ms McCash before plunging a blade into Mr Sorrie.

Both later died from the injuries.

On Tuesday, jurors convicted Stratton of murdering Ms McCash. They also convicted Stratton of the culpable homicide under provocation of Mr Sorrie.

Friends and family of the deceased started screaming at the verdict of the jury. Police removed several people from court.

As he was being led from the dock, Stratton turned to friends and family who were still sitting in the court and said: “Are you happy now?”

Court security guards then rushed him into the secure cell area as people shouted and swore.

One woman shouted: “You f****ing murdering c***t.”

Another shouted: “You f***ing scumbag.”

Following the verdicts, prosecution lawyer Alex Prentice QC revealed that Stratton had previously been given a seven year sentence at the High Court in Dunfermline for attempted murder.

Passing sentence, judge Lord Beckett told Stratton that he’d have to serve 23 and a half years in jail before he’d be eligible for parole.

He added: “The taking of two knives transformed a minor incident into two killings. For someone like you, with a previous conviction for attempted murder, who killed two people and in one case committed murder severe punishment is necessary.”

The jury’s verdicts came on the fifth day of proceedings at the court.

Stratton, of Dundee, had admitted killing the pair at the city’s Drumlanrig Drive at the start of proceedings. He claimed he acted in self defence.

Sales advisor Darren Wallace,25, told jurors how during the get together, a disturbance broke out involving his mother Wendy McKinney,44, and Mr Stratton’s partner Lee Kinney.

He said that Ms Kinney was asked to leave the get together.

He said that after she left the property, Mr Stratton appeared in the street carrying knives.

Mr Wallace told the court that he saw Julie being stabbed shortly afterwards.

He added: “I thought it was a punch but he stabbed her. Rab ran towards her.”

Mr Prentice then asked Mr Wallace what happened next. The witness replied: “She said ‘Darren he’s stabbed us.’ She collapsed onto the pavement.

“I ran into the house to shout she’s been stabbed and my mum and the whole house came running out.

“She slumped to the ground. I shouted ‘help Julie’s been stabbed.’

“Everybody was just frantic trying to find out what was going on.”

Mr Wallace’s mum Wendy told the court that Lee Kinney started arguing with her during the get together. She said that she had taken cocaine earlier in the day and had been drinking in the hours leading up to the offences.

Ms McKinney told the court that she became aware that Julie had been stabbed. She said she and David Sorrie ran out and saw Mr Stratton carrying knives.

She told the court that she tried to help Julie after she had been stabbed.

Ms McKinney added: “Julie was lying. I pulled her top off. I seen her wound. I took my top off and I packed it in the wound.

“I slapped her on the face. I applied pressure. I tried to breath into her mouth.”

Lee Kinney told the court that she was being beaten up by a group of people who attended the party.

She added: “The blows were coming at me from all directions. It happened so quickly. I was lying on the ground in the foetal position - blows were reigning down on me.

“They were angry female voices. I was in a very bad state. My head was bust open. My forehead was really badly swollen and I was black and blue all over. My hair was congealed with blood.”

Ms Kinney said that she eventually got back to her house but she heard noises outside from the people who had beaten her up.

She added: “It felt like they were in the garden. It felt as if they were outside the door. They were lots of shouting and swearing.”

The court heard that Stratton then armed himself with two knives from the kitchen. He left the house and killed the pair.

Lee Kinney’s father Norman,68, told the jury how Stratton phoned him at 6am to say that he had stabbed somebody.

He told the court that he left his house and picked Mr Stratton up by car.

When Mr Prentice asked him if Mr Stratton said anything during the short journey, Mr Kinney said yes.

He added: “He said he had stabbed somebody. I said to him ‘whit the f**k did you dae that when you’ve got two good hands. Why did you use a blade?’

“So he started to cry and I gave him two roll ups.

“He said he stabbed two people.”

The court heard that hours after the double stabbing, Stratton turned himself into police. Detective Constable Nicola Annan said that he apologised for his actions and said he “felt sick” over what he had done when he was placed in custody.

She added: “He said ‘I’m so sorry.”

Stratton gave evidence during the case.

He told the court that he acted in self defence because he was afraid the people who had beaten up his wife were going to break into his house.

Stratton said he took two knives from the kitchen and went outside because he wanted the people to leave the garden.

He said Julie had ran into a knife which he was holding and he wasn’t “too sure” how Mr Sorrie came into contact with his blade.

He turned to people sitting in public benches and said: “I didn’t want to hurt anybody.”

This prompted spectators to shout ‘f**k off’ and leave the court.

On Thursday afternoon, Lord Beckett warned spectators to be on their best behaviour before the jury returned their verdict.

Stratton sat in the dock with his head bowed during the proceedings.

Mr Prentice told the court that the family of the two deceased had been “severely affected” by the deaths. A relative needed treatment for hair loss.

He added that Ms McCash was a hairdresser who was the godmother of Ralph Smith’s younger brother.

Mr Prentice also told the court that Mr Sorrie worked as a landscape gardener.

Mr Targowski told the court that his client worked as a driver and had acknowledged responsibility for his actions.

He added: “He has expressed contrition throughout consultations with me and as you will remember from his evidence and demeanour, he has maintained contrition for his actions throughout proceedings.”

However, police still removed several people from court.

Speaking after the hearing, Lord Beckett thanked jurors for their service.

The jurors told jurors after public benches cleared following the emotional outbursts: “You can understand feelings run high in this case.

“Two people died in terrible circumstances.”

However, speaking after the case, one relative said they disapproved of the sentence.

She added: “Twenty three and a half years for killing two people is a f***ing joke.”