Severely disabled man gets life for friend murder

The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
The High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
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A SEVERELY disabled man who kicked, stamped and slashed a man to death has been sentenced to life in prison.

• Robert Macgillivray, 50, given life sentence for murdering a friend after going into a rage over a bottle of brandy

• Pathologist found so many cuts and bruises on victim Mark Hunter, 37, that he gave up counting

• Macgillivray, who is severely disabled, is only expected to live for another five years due to poor health

Robert Macgillivray, 50, was found guilty of murder by a jury which heard that he inflicted so many cuts and bruises that a pathologist carrying out a post mortem gave up counting.

Macgillivray of Inverness has been ordered to serve at least 16 years before he can ask for parole.

But, the High Court in Edinburgh heard, Macgillivray has a life expectancy of only five years.

As he sat in the dock, with an oxygen bottle beside him, judge Lord Brailsford told Macgillivray: “I accept the medical prognosis is exceptional.”

The judge added: “I do not consider, having regard to the need to impose a life sentence, in the circumstances of this offence, it has any particular relevance as far as sentence is concerned.”

A previous ruling by appeal judges made 16 years the normal minimum sentence where a weapon was used, said Lord Brailsford.

The earlier trial heard that former drug addict Macgillivray suffers from a number of health problems, including emphysema - now known as COPD. He is so ill he can barely walk down a street.

Victim Mark Hunter, 37, suffered so many cuts and bruises that a pathologist carrying out a post mortem gave up counting.

The injuries suffered by Mark Hunter, 37, must have been inflicted over a period of hours - because Macgillivray did not have the stamina to keep hitting Mr Hunter without pausing to regain his strength.

The trial heard that a blood-stained machete was found in a cupboard at Macgillivray’s home at 26 Glenshiel Place, Hilton, Inverness.

It could have been used to batter Mr Hunter, the blunt edge causing bruises, or to jab him.

Forensic scientists found damage to the dead man’s clothes suggesting at least 83 blows had been struck.

But medics said stamps, or possibly a jump with both feet together, which had killed Mr Hunter - smashing his ribs and preventing him from breathing.

The court saw CCTV footage of former hospital worker Mr Hunter stealing bottles of strong cider from a local co-op.

He then went to Macgillivray’s home where neighbours heard repeated shouts as the two men argued and Macgillivray tried to get the unwelcome visitor to leave his house.

His dog, Tinkerbell, fled and dog walker Duncan Macdonald, 58, chanced on the animal - still on the loose after midnight - and took it home to 26 Glenshiel Place when he saw Mr Hunter lying on the living room floor.

Police and medics called to the house on the morning of June 22 last year found that Mr Hunter had been dead for some time.

Hard drinking Mr Hunter might have signed his death warrant by swigging from Macgillivray’s bottle of Remy Martin brandy, the trial heard.

His blood alcohol level was four and a half times the legal driving limit.

And frail Macgillivray, taken to Inverness’ Raigmore Hospital after his arrest, accused Mr Hunter of stealing his brandy.

“He was greedy, greedy, greedy. I came down the stairs and he was drinking my cognac,” he said.

Defence advocate Shahid Latif said: “Mr Macgillivray did ask me to express, on his behalf, that he bitterly regrets the homicide of Mr Hunter.”

The lawyer said the two men were on friendly terms - when Mr Hunter was sober.

“On this occasion he was there, unwelcome. He was in an intoxicated state. He was asked to leave and did not do so and that was the catalyst for the offence which took place.”