A racist who tried to murder a Ghanaian man in an unprovoked attack on the complete stranger could face a life sentence.
A judge said he had no doubt that Stephen McHarg was “an extremely dangerous man” who will kill someone unless he changed his ways.
The 27-year-old and his younger accomplice, Liam McKee, 21, were described as acting “like hyenas” as they subjected their victim to horrific violence.
The man, originally from the West African nation, was walking through the Knightsridge area of Livingston, in West Lothian, where he lived with family, when the pair launched their attack on him.
He was repeatedly struck on the head and body with a knife, pursued and repeatedly punched and kicked until he was on the ground.
The attackers then repeatedly stamped on him and struck with pieces of wood and glass bottles, causing him to lose consciousness.
The pair earlier admitted assaulting him to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life in the racially aggravated attempted murder on October 13 in 2021 at Erskine Way and Logan Way.
A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh ordered that a full risk assessment report should be prepared on McHarg, which can lead to the imposition of an Order for Lifelong Restriction on the offender.
Under an OLR, a court fixes the minimum term an offender must serve but any future release from the indeterminate sentence is in the hands of parole authorities.
Lord Fairley jailed McKee for seven years for his part in the attempted murder.
The judge told him that if he was being sentenced after a trial he would have faced a nine year prison term, which would have included 18 months for the racial aggravation.
The judge told McKee that an eyewitness who saw the attack had described him and his co-accused as being “like hyenas”.
He said the severity of the assault, which was horrendous in itself, was increased by it being racially motivated.
The victim told police that the attack was so violent that he believed his assailants were trying to kill him. McHarg later made a string of outbursts to officers including how he had “done that n***** “.
Passers-by called 999 to report the attack on the victim with one woman stating: “He is on the ground unconscious. I think they are killing him. He is actually going to die.”
The victim was found in a garden covered in blood. He was taken to hospital with knife wounds to his head and body, including a penetrating stab wound to his chest, bruising to his brain and facial fractures.
McHarg was found at a nearby house and tried to run from police. He said he had “seriously assaulted a guy”.
He said: “I stabbed that n*****. I was going back to murder him.”
McHarg said: “I went round three different times to cut him like a road map. You will not be able to stitch his face.”
The court heard that the victim was talking on his phone via an earpiece when McKee had shouted at him and pulled up his jumper to reveal a large knife.
As the attackers approached him they were heard discussing “who was going to do it”. McKee was heard to shout: “You should not even be here. You should go back to your own place as this is mine.”
Defence solicitor advocate Iain McSporran KC, for McHarg, said it was “an extremely serious crime of violence”.
Lord Fairley said: “There is no doubt in my mind Mr McHarg is an extremely dangerous man who will kill someone if he does not change his ways.”
Mr McSporran said: “He genuinely understands how dangerous he may be. He genuinely wishes to resolve that.”
Defence solicitor advocate James Mulgrew, for McKee, said he had no history of violent offending and had expressed remorse and shame over the offending.
He asked the judge to take into account McKee’s status as a young offender in sentencing him and said he had been drinking and taking drugs following the death of a friend.
Sentence was deferred on McHarg until April 6 at the High Court in Glasgow.