Gunmen who killed dog and injured walker plead guilty to attempted murder

Reece Govan, 27, and Bran Gallacher, 26, attacked Marc McDermott in a quiet housing development in Cumbernauld.

Gunmen who killed dog and injured walker admit murder bid shooting in Cumbernauld

Two men have admitted being involved in a murder bid shooting that saw an innocent dog walker struck and her pet killed.

Reece Govan, 27, and Bran Gallacher, 26, chased Marc McDermott in a usually quiet housing development in upmarket Dullatur in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire.

Govan blasted the 31-year-old with a shotgun, while convicted killer Gallacher lashed out with a machete during the attack on January 23, 2020.

Govan fired at Mr McDermott again – but, as he struggled with the weapon, ending up also hitting Michelle Butler, 56, and her Maltichon dog Henry in the crossfire.

The pet died having been struck with 25 shotgun pellets. His owner only suffered a hand injury.

Mr McDermott also survived having needed hospital treatment for a wound to his back.

Govan and Gallacher had been due to stand trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

But, both instead pled guilty today on Friday to attempting to murder Mr McDermott.

Govan further admitted to two charges of culpably and recklessly discharging a firearm in connection with Ms Butler and Henry being struck.

They will be sentenced next month.

The attack occurred after Mr McDermott had arrived home with his parents around 7pm that night.

As they got their car, they clocked a Ford Focus, which they had seen in the street in the weeks before and thought was “suspicious”.

Govan, Gallacher and a third man then jumped out of that vehicle and CCTV showed them immediately going after Mr McDermott.

One of the trio was heard yelling: “Get him.”

Prosecutor John McElroy KC told the court: “The footage captures the initial chase, showing Govan carrying what appears to be a shotgun and Gallacher carrying a machete.”

Mr McDermott sprinted down a lane while his dad – clutching a hockey stick – also went out to try and help his son.

Mr McDermott was initially struck on the shoulder with the machete. He was then shot in the back before he could reach the end of a path.

Despite being wounded and bleeding, Mr McDermott continued to try and escape.

Mr McElroy said: “As he ran towards a lane, he heard a male – believed to be Gallacher – shouting: ‘Reece, don’t’. There was then a second gunshot.”

Mr McDermott was hit and forced to stop.

Ms Butler and Henry had been nearby when the second blast was fired.

She recalled seeing the gunman raising the weapon, but thought he “looked like a child trying to lift something heavy”.

Michelle told those later investigating the shooting: “Although I think he was aiming at the guy who was on my side, it came left and was aiming more to where I was with Henry.

“Then I heard another bang, similar to the one seconds beforehand.

“I also saw an orange spark coming from either the end or the middle of what I had thought was a pool cue.”

After hearing Henry squeal, Ms Butler scooped up her pet and ran off distressed, before being helped by a passing driver.

Mr McElroy said: “She realised that, while she had a relatively minor injury to her hand, her dog had been struck by the majority of the discharged shotgun pellets and had died.”

The attackers meantime fled in the Ford Focus. Mr McDermott was helped by his parents and taken to hospital.

He suffered a wound to his lower back. A quantity of “shot” remains in his body, but he is likely to make a full recovery barring any difficulties.

Ms Butler also received treatment for the injury to her hand.

Henry was found to have suffered “catastrophic organ damage” as a result of being hit.

Gallacher was jailed for 10 years in 2015 for culpable homicide.

He was involved in the killing of young dad Stephen McGinlay in a busy street in Glasgow’s St George’s Cross area in 2014.

His co-accused at the time – Liam Strang – was convicted of murder and jailed for a minimum of 16 years.

It is not known when Gallacher ended up back on the streets, but he appeared from custody for the hearing on Friday.

Govan was handed a six and a half year extended sentence in August 2016, but was freed on licence in November 2018. He also been remanded pending this latest case.

Lord Colbeck deferred sentencing for reports until August 18 in Stirling. Both have been remanded in custody.

Holly Daniel, 24, had been accused of the reset of cars and drugs charges along with Govan, but prosecutors accepted her not guilty pleas.

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