A killer who fled to Europe after stabbing a man to death was jailed on Monday for six years and four months.
Dean Ferguson stabbed Billy Joe Bates – described as his second cousin – during a confrontation in Milton, Glasgow on November 18, 2018.
The 30-year-old went on the run and it was only in May 2022 that he was discovered in the Netherlands before being brought back to face justice.
Detectives had also cracked encrypted phone messages that linked him to the fatal stabbing including Ferguson boasting how he had fled the country.
Ferguson had been due to stand trial for the murder of 28-year-old Mr Bates.
But, via his lawyer Donald Findlay KC, he pled guilty to the reduced charge of culpable homicide at the High Court in Glasgow.
Judge Lord Clark said: “You have expressed remorse for the tragic consequences of your actions.
“This was not premeditated – it was spontaneous in response to a fear of an assault.
“I have taken account of the victim impact statement from Mr Bates’ mother.
“She explained in her deeply moving words of the consequences this has had on the family.
“There is no sentence I can impose which will begin to relieve that grief.”
Prosecutor John Keenan KC told an earlier hearing how the exact details of the killing “cannot be determined”, but that there had been “no history of animosity” between the men.
The court heard the pair spent the morning of the attack together before going separate ways.
Mr Keenan: “They then came together around 2.30pm and a violent confrontation ensued.
“Ferguson sustained a head injury and Billy Joe Bates sustained a number of injuries including a fatal deep stab wound to the chest.”
Ferguson ended up at Glasgow Royal Infirmary around the same time as Mr Bates.
He was initially identified as a “potential suspect”.
Detectives then began to trawl through CCTV to try and discover what happened.
Footage showed Ferguson, the victim and another man going to a flat in the city’s Maryhill early on November 18.
Ferguson had been described as “angry and agitated” while there.
The men all left before Mr Bates came back to collect his phone and told a witness that he had “fallen out” with Ferguson.
The men all ended up at the flat in Milton where the killing occurred.
Mr Keenan stated neighbours recalled hearing “raised male voices”.
One said there was a “shout of pain or cry for help”.
The man with Ferguson and Mr Bates made a 999 call at 2.33pm.
A woman went on to see an injured Mr Bates outside with a wound on his right side.
He was taken to hospital, but the court heard he was “unable to state what had happened”.
The stab wound was found to have punctured his right liver causing internal bleeding.
He was treated over the next few days, but never recovered and passed away on November 22, 2018.
Billy Joe was found to have suffered stab wounds to the chest and upper right arm.
While at the same hospital, Ferguson claimed his own injuries had occurred by falling on glass.
He later discharged himself and, despite efforts to trace him, he was not found at that time.
A knife meantime found at the flat was described as being “potentially responsible” for causing the fatal stab wound.
There had also been “attempts at cleaning” the property.
The French and Dutch law authorities later went on to crack the EncroChat phone network favoured by criminals.
Encrypted messages linked to Ferguson were uncovered and helped identify him as the assailant.
He had not previously been arrested due to a lack of evidence and his “unknown whereabouts ” at the time.
In one message, he discussed the case with his partner.
He wrote: “There is not even a point in trying to make up a story til I see the evidence.
“I could make things worse for myself doing that. Never know, I might not even need a story.”
Ferguson also stated he had “f****d off” and fled the UK with a warrant out for his arrest.
Mr Keenan: “An extradition request was made to the Dutch authorities as Ferguson was believed to be in Holland.
“He was extradited on May 4, 2022.”
Mr Findlay gave an account at the earlier hearing of what was said to have occurred that day.
Prosecutors stated they could “neither confirm or deny” what was put forward.
Mr Findlay stated Mr Bates had been armed with a blade, there was a struggle and Ferguson got him to drop the weapon.
It was claimed the victim then ended up leaving Ferguson bleeding by smacking a bottle over his head.
The killer was said to have picked up the knife as Mr Bates was “straddling” him but was “not aware of any contact” being made with the knife.
Mr Findlay said: “Dean Ferguson accepts that there are other steps that he could have taken. The blow that he struck took a life.”
Mr Findlay told Monday’s sentencing: “An incident occurred in which responsibility can be held at the door of each and tragic consequences followed.
“Clearly there was no long running feud – it was not something that needed to happen and should not have happened.”
Moira Orr, who leads on homicide and major crime for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: “Dean Ferguson failed in an attempt to evade Scottish justice. He will now pay for his crimes by serving a lengthy period in prison after being convicted of a serious offence.
“This case shows that justice does not stop at the border, and we will robustly use every avenue across multiple jurisdictions to bring criminals to justice in Scotland.
“We regularly collaborate across jurisdictional boundaries as part of our commitment to protect society from harm.”
Detective chief inspector Lynsey Watters said: “This has been a long and complicated case and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Billy Joe. This conviction shows that no matter the length of time, we will use all the tools we have to investigate and bring people who are intent on committing crime to justice.
“I would like to thank everyone who assisted with what was a complex investigation.”
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