Martial arts killer used victim's card to buy a scratchcard after murder

A martial arts thug helped brutally murder a father - then used the victim's bank card to buy a scratchcard.

Stewart Muircroft, 43, teamed up with Mark Connor, 51, to attack vulnerable Allan West at the 67 year-old's flat in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire.

Prosecutors stated Allan was punched, kicked and bludgeoned with poles, mugs, a washing machine door, a television and a hoover on August 21 and 22 2022.

The victim suffered at least 70 injuries including to his brain and numerous fractures.

Muircroft - a second-Dan black belt in Taekwondo - denied being involved and insisted he was not a "violent man". Both he and Connor effectively blamed each other for the killing.

Jurors heard how Muircroft used the dead man's bank card at a local Asda to buy the scratchcard, a box of beer and a tobacco. He claimed to not know it was Allan's card and that Connor had given him it in the shop.

Muircroft told the jury: "I have always thought of others before myself."

The trial took place at the High Court in Glasgow -Credit:Getty Images
The trial took place at the High Court in Glasgow -Credit:Getty Images

The pair have now been jailed for at least 20 years each after being convicted of murder following the trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Lord Arthurson today told the pair: "The sheer scale and severity of this concerted, utterly brutal attack can only be properly understood in light of the injuries inflicted by you."

Muircroft had ended up in the company of Connor before the killing. Muircroft had been living in a friend's flat right next to where Allan stayed.

He claimed to know his eventual victim "in passing". In his evidence, Muircroft stated Connor left him that night, but came back stating he had "attacked" Allan.

Muircroft: "His adrenaline was pumping. He was excited."

After Connor went out again, he said he could hear "screaming and shouting" from Allan's flat and the "place being smashed up".

Muircroft claimed he went to the property, he "restrained" Connor and "got him out". He told jurors he did not see the stricken victim as it was "pitch black".

Muircroft added any blood on him would have come from holding Connor. The killers later went with others to an Asda store in Grangemouth.

Muircroft claimed Connor gave him a bank card - which turned out to be Allan's - and asked him to buy beer with it while he went to the toilet.

His KC Ian Duguid asked him: "Did you (also) buy a scratchcard?" Muircroft agreed he did use Allan's card to do so.

Quizzed if he knew whether Allan was "dead or alive" by this time, Muircroft stated: "I knew that he had been assaulted, but it did not cross my mind he may be deceased.

"I knew that he had been assaulted because Mr Connor told me he had done so."

Muircroft denied confessing to a woman that both he and Connor had "hurt" Allan. He also refuted claims being party to comments as to why Allan had been assaulted.

Muircroft told the trial: "I never said a word. I am not a violent man by nature."

Jurors heard Connor in a police interview "squarely put the blame" on Muircroft. Mr Duguid: "He is lying?" Muircroft: "A bare faced lie."

Forensic evidence helped link both thugs to the crime. This included Muircroft's DNA being on a hoover in Allan's flat used to help attack the dad.

He tried to explain that by claiming his friend had got him to ask Allan for a loan of his vacuum as it was better to clean up his pet dog's hair.

Muircroft denied he had even been in the victim's flat.

Connor did not give evidence, but his KC Thomas Ross put to Muircroft that he had been unfortunate to be pinned for the murder if he was telling the truth.

Mr Ross suggested at one stage: "With all these unlucky things happening, what made you think you would be lucky in buying a scratchcard?"

Muircroft: "I often buy a scratchcard."

After the verdicts, it emerged the pair already had more than 60 groups of convictions between them.

Lord Arthurson also paid tribute to Allan's family for enduring the trial and having to listen to the "grim and often highly disturbing evidence".

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