A murderer who took his own life “left notes” for friends and family about what he wanted them to do with his personal belongings, a court heard.
Steven Dickie, 24, was serving a life sentence for killing oil industry worker Steven Donaldson in Kirriemuir, Angus, in June 2018.
But he took his own life at Perth Prison in November 2019 – the same day as his accomplices Tasmin Glass and Callum Davidson lost their bid to have their sentences reduced.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Gillian Wade QC, who presided over a Fatal Accident Inquiry held earlier this year, concluded that Dickie died by hanging.
He had been sacked from his job as a passman in the jail the previous day – the position allowed Dickie to have privileges.
Doctors who conducted a post-mortem on Dickie found he had also taken substances before he died.
In May 2019, jail staff also placed Dickie on the Scottish Prison Service’s anti-suicide Talk To Me Policy after his mum said she was worried for her son’s mental health.
He was placed on 60-minute observations but removed after staff concluded he was at no risk of taking his life.
Their conclusions were based on Dickie not expressing or showing any desire to take his life.
In a written judgement issued on Tuesday, Sheriff Wade said the evidence in the case showed that prison staff could not have done anything to stop Dickie from taking his life.
She wrote: “I accepted the submission of the procurator fiscal to the effect that the deceased was unlikely to have been acting under some sort of psychosis or hallucination at the time of his death as he had left a number of notes for his friends and family and specific directions about what he wished to be done with his property.
“It was therefore clear that whatever his motivation the deceased’s actions in taking his life were deliberate and planned.
“It is quite impossible for me to find any causal link between the consumption of these substances and the deceased’s death on the basis of the evidence before me.
“All that can be said with certainly is that the deceased was clearly using drugs within the prison system while expressly denying that this was the case.
“He had no history of substance abuse and had not sought any help for any such problem.
“There was no overt sign that he was ever under the effects of any substance and on the contrary seems to have held a position of responsibility within the prison without being compromised by apparent substance misuse.
“There are many factors which could have affected the deceased such as the loss of his job as a passman, his ingestion of drugs with unknown consequences, the lack of prospects of an appeal or simply the prospect of having to spend a lengthy period of time in custody.
“None of these on their own seem to have been the motivating factor behind the deceased’s actions and any attempt to attribute a motive would be speculation.
“On the basis of the evidence I cannot suggest any recommendations of the sort suggested… which might realistically have prevented this or other deaths in similar circumstances.”
Dickie was ordered to serve at least 23 years following a trial before judge Lord Pentland at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Along with Tasmin Glass and Callum Davidson, Dickie was convicted of Steven’s murder after viciously assaulting him in Kirriemuir, Angus, last June.
Glass, then aged 20, lured Steven, who was her ex-boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, to a deadly rendezvous.
She had written off a Volkswagen car which he had bought for her and was under pressure to pay the money back.
Dickie, who had been in a sexual relationship with Glass, and Davidson, then 24, were recruited to confront Steven, which led to his brutal execution at a nature reserve.
Steven, 27, was repeatedly struck on the head and body with a baseball bat and a “heavy bladed weapon”, such as a cleaver, machete or axe, which cut his spinal cord in two places.
A jury returned majority guilty verdicts of murder against Dickie and Davidson, and an unanimous verdict of culpable homicide against Glass.
Glass was given ten years while Davidson was ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years.
In the judgement, Sheriff Wade told of how Dickie worked as a passman at Perth Prison. This allowed him to move freely between the halls. The role is allocated to trusted prisoners and it involves cleaning the flats, showers and serving food to the other inmates.
However, on the day before his death Dickie was sacked from the job. He refused to wear prison issue jogging bottoms when serving food – a requirement of the job.
The inquiry heard that following the sacking, Dickie phoned his mum and it was “clear” from the conversation that he did not seem bothered by being sacked. He spoke about the “collection” of a car and bike – and how the vehicles should be stored.
Sheriff Wade wrote that prison staff could not stop drugs from entering jails on all occasions.
She wrote: “It is clearly a very difficult if not impossible task to prevent drugs from being brought into the prison estate. The evidence of the witness made clear the lengths to which prisoners would go to ensure a supply.
“I am satisfied that there are measures in place to try to counter the use of and admission of drugs in the prison estate but again this cannot be eliminated if there are increasingly novel and determined efforts to circumvent the measures in place.”
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