Killer stabbed man in heart after finding him at partner’s flat

Robbie Smullen has been jailed for more than nine years over the death of Barry Dixon.

Killer stabbed man in heart after finding him at partner’s flat Police ScotlandPolice Scotland
Robbie Smullen killed Barry Dixon in 2019.

A killer who stabbed a man in the heart after he found him at his partner’s flat has been jailed for more than nine years.

Robbie Smullen, 23, knifed Barry Dixon before leaving him at Shannon Beattie’s home in the Tulloch area of Perth.

A judge said Smullen had at the time been disinhibited by the effects of alcohol and “sexual jealousy” when he carried out the killing.

Lady Carmichael said: “No sentence I can impose today can repair or lessen the harm you have caused to the family of Barry Dixon.

“The effects of your actions are enduring for them and felt deeply by them.”

She jailed Smullen for nine years and three months, taking into account that he was freed under three bail orders from Perth Sheriff Court when the offence occurred.

Smullen had earlier denied murdering 22-year-old Mr Dixon in the attack on June 4, 2019, and maintained that he acted in self-defence.

But a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh rejected his claim and convicted him of the lesser charge of culpable homicide. 

After the knife attack Mr Dixon was taken to Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital where a scan revealed he had fluid in the sac around his heart. Blood gathered around the vital organ was removed, but a stabbing injury to the heart was identified.

Mr Dixon went into cardiac arrest during efforts to repair the injury and life was later pronounced dead. 

Police and paramedics had attended at the Perth flat following an emergency call and found Mr Dixon in the living room with a visible chest wound.

The court heard that Smullen earlier rowed with Ms Beattie, the mother of his child.

She asked him and his friends to leave the flat, which she shared with Smullen at the time.

Ms Beattie, 25, said she left seeking a cigarette and met up with Mr Dixon before returning to her flat where they were drinking. 

When Smullen entered he asked what Mr Dixon was doing in the flat. Ms Beattie said Mr Dixon asked him to calm down. She said a fight broke out and she tried to split them up but Smullen pushed her away.

She told the court: “I just remember seeing Robbie on my right hand side and Barry was on my left hand side and Robbie stabbed him. It just happened so fast.”

Smullen told the court that when he arrived at the flat at Wallace Court he was angry and upset to find Mr Dixon there and thought he and his then partner were having sex.

He claimed that Mr Dixon came towards him and threw a punch and that he became aware of a knife in his hand. He said he grabbed his arm and they tripped and fell during a struggle.

Smullen said he fell on top of Mr Dixon and realised the other man had been stabbed when he got up.

He said he was terrified and panicked and ran to go and get help. 

Defence counsel Ronnie Renucci QC, for Robbie Smullen, said he had been described as “an immature young man” in a report and he would not take issue with that.

He said: “This was not a case where Mr Smullen that night had gone looking for Mr Dixon, or looking for trouble. He was returning to his family home and came upon a situation which he was not and could not have anticipated.” 

“He very much regrets his involvement in the death of Barry Dixon. The fact that he was the cause of the death of another person is something he will have to live with every day,” said Mr Renucci, adding that Smullen told a social worker that it haunts him.

“He has recognised he has to change his ways and move on from his past life,” said the defence counsel.