A killer who murdered a man after a drugs binge has succeeded in a bid to have the punishment part of his life sentence cut.
Appeal judges have ruled that Liam Hay, 21, will now have to serve a minimum of 16 years before he is eligible to apply for parole.
Hay was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to stabbing Anthony McGladrigan, 51, nine times at his home in Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire, in June 2019.
Judge Lady Stacey ordered Hay to serve at least 19 years before he could apply for parole.
At a remote hearing of the Court of Criminal Appeal last month, Hay’s advocate Ian Duguid QC said that Lady Stacey had an obligation to consider his client’s youth in her sentencing deliberations.
Mr Duguid said the law stated that judges should take into account that youths aren’t as fully developed as adults and have a greater chance of rehabilitation.
He told judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Brodie and Lord Turnbull that their colleague failed to do this and that Hay’s punishment part should be reduced.
Judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Brodie and Lord Turnbull have agreed with Mr Duguid’s submissions and cut his sentence.
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In a written judgement, Lady Dorrian wrote: “It was submitted that the youth of the appellant was a significant factor, having regard to the authorities that in sentencing a young person it is to be borne in mind that maturity may not be developed and a primary consideration has to be the welfare and best interests of the individual, so that they can come out of prison as a responsible and valuable member of society.
“We shall allow the appeal to the extent of substituting a punishment part of 16 years for that of 19 years imposed by the sentencing judge.”
At proceedings at the High Court in Glasgow last year, Hay entered a guilty plea to a murder charge.
The court heard how Hay had been a five day binge with drugs before attacking Mr McGladrigan.
Prosecutor Erin Campbell said this included taking cocaine and the stimulant M-Cat and this made him delusional.
At one stage, Hay partied at his grandparents house while they were on holiday in Spain.
The property was just a short distance from Mr McGladrigan’s family home.
Hay was described latterly as “tripping” and his behaviour “increasingly strange”.
At around 4.30am on the morning of the murder, Hay’s friend Austen Smith tried to wake him.
The killer got up, but then grabbed a baseball bat and claimed he “wanted a word” with him.
A scared Mr Smith immediately raced out of the house as farm worker Hay yelled threats at him.
Mr Smith thumped on the door of Mr McGladrigan for help.
The dad – who worked at the Sandman Signature Hotel in Aberdeen – had been in bed with his wife shortly after finishing a shift.
Mr McGladrigan let Mr Smith in and shouted to his wife: “Stay in the room. He says he is being chased by someone with a bat.”
A bare-footed Hay then got into his victim’s house before stabbing him with a knife.
After being targeted, Mr McGladrigan screamed: “Oh my god, are you crazy? I have been stabbed.”
He died due to “multiple” stab wounds to the back and chest.
Hay was later quizzed by police. He claimed he had now “sobered up”, but could not remember anything.
At proceedings last month, Mr Duguid said his client was remorseful for his actions.
He added: “Whilst he is not a child, he is a young man and his brain is not fully developed yet.”
In the judgement, the appeal judges state that there is no guarantee that Hay will be released once he serves 16 years. He will only be released once the parole board are satisfied that he no longer poses a threat to society.
Lady Dorrian described the attack as being “serious, unprovoked and distressing”.