Man killed in Fife hammer attack over £200 drugs debt

A convicted drug trafficker killed a man in a hammer attack after the victim ran up a debt he was unable to pay, a court heard yesterday.
Colin Oliphant was found dead at a house in Kelty, Fife, after a hammer attackColin Oliphant was found dead at a house in Kelty, Fife, after a hammer attack
Colin Oliphant was found dead at a house in Kelty, Fife, after a hammer attack

William Richardson turned up at a house in Kelty, in Fife, and went into a bedroom where Colin Oliphant had been resting and repeatedly assaulted him.

Other people in the house heard Mr Oliphant say: “Sorry Willie, don’t hit me, stop it Willie. What are you doing?”

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Richardson then emerged from the room with his injured victim walking behind him before the killer told him: “You know I am a boxer” and then punched him on the nose.

Richardson, who was jailed for heroin supply in 2013, drove off from the house with others and was described as acting “full of bravado”, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

Advocate depute Bill McVicar told the court: “The now deceased quickly began to struggle to breathe with his face swelling and asking for help, pointing to his neck.”

An ambulance was called but the attack victim’s face and throat continued to swell after he was placed in the vehicle, along with his arms, legs and body.

Mr Oliphant, 38, went into cardiac arrest and despite efforts to save him he died. The cause of death was later given as complications of chest trauma.

The prosecutor said the fatal injury inflicted on Mr Oliphant was a fracture of a rib on the left side of his back which had splintered bone and punctured a lung.

Mr McVicar said: “As a result air leaked out of the left lung every time the deceased took a breath. The air leaking out filled the right side of the chest cavity causing it to crush the right lung.”

Richardson (35) formerly of Park Brae Gate, Ruchill, Glasgow, was originally charged with murdering Mr Oliphant in the attack at Keltyhill Avenue on 6 September last year.

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But yesterday he admitted a reduced charge of culpable homicide. He pled guilty to repeatedly punching the victim on the head and body and repeatedly striking him on the body with a weapon and killing him.

Mr McVicar said: “The deceased Colin Oliphant sourced cocaine for onward supply from the accused.”

He said the victim had become indebted to Richardson due to his own use of drugs and was unable to pay what he owed.

The prosecutor said that prior to the fatal attack on him he had expressed concern that he could not pay £200 for drugs that he had obtained.

After the assault Richardson had returned to a house in Ballingry, in Fife, where he was living with a woman and told her that the victim had been “causing issues at work”, said Mr McVicar.

He later informed her that the victim was dead and he appeared to be in a state of shock, the court heard.

Richardson later called the mother of his two children and said he had got into a fight and done something stupid. He said he had “hit someone on the back with something, stating he had just reached for the first thing”. He also said he was “going away for a long time”. He turned up at Dunfermline police station on 8 September and told officers that he had assaulted a man.