A man convicted of killing a vulnerable woman has had his culpable homicide conviction quashed.
Weir McKay, 45, and his accomplice Allan Doherty, 35, targeted Karen Young in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, in June 2018.
The 47-year-old victim was strangled and hit on the head with a metal pole and hammer by Doherty, who was jailed for life after being convicted of murder.
McKay, of Port Glasgow, was found guilty of the lesser charge of culpable homicide by inflicting blunt-force injuries on Ms Young and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
McKay was branded “utterly indifferent” as jurors heard how he stole the victim’s bank card and tried to use it to order a Chinese takeaway.
However, on Wednesday, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that the evidence available in the case didn’t entitle the jury to return a guilty verdict to culpable homicide.
Judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Pentland and Lord Turnbull concluded the evidence led at the trial showed the injuries inflicted by McKay didn’t cause Ms Young’s death.
They said the injuries inflicted by Doherty caused her death and McKay’s culpable homicide conviction should be quashed.
They ruled that it would be more appropriate for him to be convicted on an assault charge and he should serve a five-year sentence.
In a written judgement issued at the court on Wednesday, Lady Dorrian wrote: “When the exercise of stripping out the blunt force injures for which Doherty alone was responsible is contemplated it becomes even clearer, in our opinion, that any link between the injuries for which the appellant was held responsible and the death of the victim becomes entirely speculative.
“In these circumstances we are persuaded that the submissions for the appellant should be given effect to.
“We shall therefore quash the verdict of guilty to culpable homicide which was returned against him and in its place we shall substitute a verdict of guilty to the crime of assaulting the victim by means unknown to the prosecutor meantime, (and) repeatedly inflicting blunt force injuries on her head and body.”
Doherty will still continue to serve the sentence imposed upon him at trial.