Pensioner killed childhood friend after 'harmless banter' about past

John Green, 67, punched John Thomson, who fell and suffered a fatal head injury following the attack in Lanark last July 9.

Lanark pensioner killed childhood friend after ‘harmless banter’ about past Google Maps

A pensioner killed his childhood friend after “harmless banter” about when they were youngsters.

John Green, 67, punched John Thomson, who fell and suffered a fatal head injury following the attack in Lanark on July 9, 2022.

The 69-year-old dad passed away two years after he had lost his wife in a car accident.

First offender Green faces jail after pleading guilty to the culpable homicide of Mr Thomson.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Erin Campbell told the High Court in Glasgow how the men had been friends since childhood.

On the afternoon of the killing, they had their regular Saturday meet-up at Lanark Bowling Club in the town’s Waterloo Road.

They were joined by other friends Jim Stewart and Tom Neil.

The group were described as in “good spirits” with no animosity between them.

Green’s son-in-law John Gardiner later picked the men up that night to take them home.

Mr Neil was dropped off first before they headed to Mr Thomson’s.

Ms Campbell said: “While en-route, Mr Thomson engaged in what was described as harmless banter with Green.

“He was saying things along the lines of: ‘Remember when we were boys, Kirkfieldbank used to beat the boys from Crossford’.

“Mr Thomson was originally from Kirkfieldbank and Green from Crossford.

“Green took offence to these comments.”

The car then stopped near Mr Thomson’s home in the town’s Kenilworth Road and the he got out of the vehicle.

Green exited after him and confronted his friend.

The court was told, Mr Thomson said: “What you doing, John? Get back in the motor.”

Ms Campbell said: “Green and Mr Thomson then exchanged words. Green proceeded to punch him to the right hand side of his face twice in quick succession.

“Mr Thomson fell to the ground and hit the rear of his head off the pavement.”

The other men got out to help and found the stricken victim lying unconscious.

There was blood on the pavement and he had a large gash to his head.

Green, also of Lanark, was standing against a wall and was heard saying: “I am sorry, I am sorry.”

Emergency crews soon arrived at the scene to try and help Mr Thomson.

Green said: “I am guilty. He slapped me 40 years ago, so I slapped him back tonight, but he is my mate.”

After initially being arrested for assault, he said: “Honestly, it is something that should not have happened.”

Mr Thomson was rushed to hospital and was found to have a significant head injury. He never recovered and died three days later.

He also had a bruise to his jaw as a result of a punch of “low level force”.

The court heard Mr Thomson is survived by two adult sons. His wife was killed in a road traffic collision in March 2020.

Green’s lawyer Edith Forrest told the court he had been left troubled by what happened.

The advocate said: “He is really unable to put into words how desperately sorry he is for what he did.

“He wishes to convey his apologies to Mr Thomson’s family.

“This is a most unusual and very tragic case, but one that he appreciates the severity of.”

Lord Richardson agreed to continue bail for Green as sentencing was deferred for reports until May 17 in Edinburgh.

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