A man who murdered an army veteran for “financial gain” and then left his body to decompose for 12 months in a disused industrial unit has been jailed.
David Barnes was found guilty last month of murdering Ean Coutts, 60, and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
The 33-year-old killed Mr Coutts on September 3, 2019, at either his victim’s house in Kinglassie, Fife, or elsewhere in Scotland by “means unknown” to investigators.
On Wednesday, Barnes was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Barnes tried to avoid detection for the crime by hatching an “elaborate scheme” that saw him removing Mr Coutts from his home in a wheelie bin.
He drove Mr Coutts’s body to a disused industrial unit in Glenrothes, Fife, where he abandoned it in a cupboard.
He then attempted to set fire to the remains in a bid to conceal Mr Coutts’s identity from investigators before leaving the scene.
The court heard how Barnes then assumed Mr Coutts’ identity and helped himself to more than £5,000 of his victim’s money which he used to buy “goods and services”.
Mr Coutts’s skeletal remains were then discovered by an urban explorer in September 2020, causing police to launch an investigation.
Officers managed to gather enough evidence to bring Barnes to justice.
Lord Mulholland remanded Barnes – of Cardenden, Fife – in custody ahead of sentencing. He called for a report to learn more about Barnes’s character.
He made reference to how Barnes told lies to neighbours about how Mr Coutts had gone on holiday and had moved to England in the time after he disappeared.
He said: “You murdered a man who was going about his daily business and you murdered this man for financial gain.
“Having murdered him you embarked upon an elaborate scheme to hide this murder.
“Your pack of lies unravelled. What you did was despicable.”
The verdicts came on the fourth day of proceedings against Mr Barnes who denied murdering Mr Coutts.
He also denied attempting to defeat the ends of justice in a bid to “avoid detection, arrest and prosecution” for allegedly murdering Mr Coutts.
Mr Barnes, of Fife, was standing trial on a total of 36 charges which included allegations of theft and fraud.
One of the charges told of how he used bank cards in Mr Coutts’s name to make several transactions between August 31, 2019, and January 23, 2020, obtaining more than £5,000 of goods.
It was also claimed that Barnes stole a Nationwide bank card in Mr Coutts’s name days before the alleged killing.
He was accused of using the card at a number of places including at a McDonalds in Glenrothes on September 6, 2019, for £15.50 and is said to have withdrawn a total of £5,610 in cash.
He was also alleged to have committed fraud by buying tickets for an “entertainment show” at Rothes Hall in Glenrothes on December 9, 2019.
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