Man convicted for a second time of stabbing soldier to death

Victim: Paul McGee
Paul McGee: Murder victim had been decorated for service in Iraq.

A man has been convicted for a second time of murdering a soldier in a knife attack.

Barry McGrory, 31, stabbed Scots Guardsman Paul McGee to death with a seven-inch blade he called his "baby".

Guardsman McGee died in his mother's arms after the attack outside the family's home in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, in October 2009.

On Wednesday, a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on McGrory following a retrial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Guardsman McGee’s family and friends, including his mother Anne and sister Kelly, cheered the decision.

McGrory had originally been convicted two years ago but appeal judges quashed the verdict. One of the points raised by the killer's lawyers was that a juror in the first trial had been wearing a Help for Heroes wristband.

Passing sentence on Wednesday, judge John Beckett QC ordered McGrory to serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars - the same jail term he received in 2010.

He said Guardsman McGee, 28, was a "brave and decent young man" who was the victim of a "horrifying" attack.

McGrory shouted to relatives "keep fighting it - we'll appeal again" as he was taken down to the cells in handcuffs. One woman called back "love you".

Guardsman McGee’s family embraced one another as they left court, but made no comment to waiting media.

The soldier was on leave at the time of the fatal attack on October 25, 2009. Guardsman McGee - an Iraq war veteran - had previously been commended for bravery after trying to save a colleague whose armoured vehicle had slipped into a canal.

The family had been returning home in a taxi from a charity night when the incident occurred.

Taxi driver John Banach spotted McGrory driving slowly with his fog lights on and flashed before overtaking. The court heard this enraged McGrory and his passenger Ian Wallace, who chased after the taxi.

Wallace jumped out in McConnell Road, Lochwinnoch and punched Mr Banach. Guardsman McGee then stepped in before he and Wallace - described as "deranged" - got into a scuffle.

As Guardsman McGee then lay on the ground, McGrory went back to his car, grabbed a fishing knife and stabbed the defenceless soldier. McGrory and Wallace then fled the scene as Guardsman McGee's mother rushed over to cradle her dying son.

The 57-year-old told the court she gave him a kiss as she held his hand. Mrs McGee said: "I just told my son to get up. I said: 'It's mum, please son, get up'. Neighbours came onto the street and told me that he had been stabbed - then my son died in my arms."

She recalled a subsequent telephone call from the hospital telling her that he had died. She added: "He was a son that every mum would have been proud to have."

The jury heard how McGrory got Wallace to throw away the murder weapon after confessing to stabbing Guardsman McGee. However, McGrory had once again placed the blame for the killing with Wallace at the trial.

He said: "I made mistakes that night, but I did not make the ultimate mistake and use the knife on that boy. Ian Wallace stabbed Paul McGee. Ian Wallace murdered Paul McGee."

Wallace had also originally been charged with murder, but the Crown dropped the case against him. He instead pled guilty at the first trial to assaulting Guardsman McGee, the taxi driver and his girlfriend's mother Ann Laycock. Wallace gave evidence at the retrial and claimed it was "total b*******" that he was armed with a knife that night.

The jury was told that McGrory had a previous conviction for assault and robbery and possession of a knife.

Judge Beckett said: "This was a horrifying assault with a knife that you called your 'baby'. Paul McGee was a decent and brave young man who lost his life for no reason whatsoever.

"His only mistake was to seek to protect a taxi driver who was assaulted. You left your victim bleeding in the street having inflicted injuries on your victim with a large knife."

The judge also said McGrory had "shown no remorse" over the killing.

Procurator Fiscal for the West of Scotland, John Dunn, said: "The murder of Paul McGee was an act of senseless violence involving the use of a knife. Paul was a hero to his family and to the country serving the Scots Guards regiment with great distinction. Although the verdict will not bring back Paul it will be some comfort to his family that his killer has been brought to justice".

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