A shop worker struggling for cash stabbed a father to death in front of his young children and partner.
Steven Bryceland attacked Christopher Nicol, 27, at the victim’s flat in Greenock, Inverclyde, on September 26, 2019.
The 45-year-old fled with £200 as he apologised to Mr Nicol’s stunned partner Courtney Lowe.
Mr Nicol never survived having been knifed three times.
On Wednesday, Bryceland was jailed for a minimum of 17 years after pleading guilty to a murder charge at the High Court in Glasgow.
Bryceland had worked at the B&M store in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, for eight years before the killing.
However, the court was told he was a “functioning drug addict” whose girlfriend had similar, more serious issues.
She had ran up debts to local dealers.
Bryceland and Mr Nicol knew each other and both lived in Maple Road, Greenock.
Mr Nicol was at home around 9pm on the night of the murder with his partner and his two children.
Prosecutor Greg Farrell said: “She heard someone at the door and opened it.
“She saw Bryceland in possession of a knife wearing a black hat and a scarf covering his face.
“She did not recognise him at this point. Bryceland walked into the living room and shouted, ‘Chris, give me your money’.”
Ms Lowe yelled at the five and six-year-old to get into the kitchen as Mr Nicol grabbed a chair to defend himself.
He initially pinned Bryceland against a wall as Ms Lowe bravely tried to help her partner.
But, Mr Nicol – who also used the surname Caraher – slumped backwards having been knifed.
Mr Farrell said: “Both continued to struggle with one another. Bryceland then stabbed him twice more in the back.”
The killer insisted he was not leaving until he got money, despite Ms Loww pleading she had to call 999.
She eventually got £200 in cash from a cupboard and handed it to Bryceland.
Mr Farrell said: “He then stated ‘sorry’ and left.”
Ms Lowe and a neighbour desperately tried to help stricken Mr Nicol.
Emergency crews soon arrived, but the dad did not survive.
Bryceland went home and told his partner: “I have done something and it has gone terribly wrong.”
He was held for the murder in November 2019.
The court was told the “horror” of what Bryceland “continued to haunt” him.
Brian McConnachie QC, defending, added: “As at September 2019, Mr Bryceland was struggling to see a way out of the financial difficulties he and his partner were in.
“He had attempted to obtain payday loans. He had got one for £500, but this still left him short to pay off drug debts to others.”
The advocate said Bryceland had “no intention” to harm anyone that night and was unaware children would be in the flat.
The blade – which was never found – had come from a collection of a knives Bryceland’s brother had.
Mr McConnachie said: “His personal circumstances and his record, as of September 2019, would suggest that he was not a candidate for committing a serious crime of violence or causing the death of another person.”
Lord Richardson jailed Bryceland for life and cut the minimum prison term by a year due to the guilty plea.
The judge added: “The fact remains you murdered the man.
“You had a knife to rob him and stabbed him three times in front of his partner and young children.
“It is apparent your actions have had and continue to have a profound effect on the members of his family.”
Following Bryceland’s sentencing, detective inspector John Stewart said: “Chris Nicol was brutally killed at the hands of Steven Bryceland in front of his two young children.
“Bryceland went to Chris’ home that evening armed with a knife and intent on robbing him.
“Two innocent children were exposed to the horror of what followed and have to live with the consequences of Bryceland’s cowardly and despicable actions.
“Our thoughts are still very much with his family, during what has been an agonising time for them. I hope that the outcome today provides some sense of justice to them.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the public who came forward and assisted our enquiries, which ultimately led to this prosecution.”