Murderer jailed for killing Big Issue vendor at his home

Jason Cowan sentenced to at least 18 years in prison for killing Paul Kelly in Glasgow last year.

A murder who killed a Big Issue vendor has been jailed for at least 18 years.

Jason Cowan burst into the home of Paul Kelly and brutally knifed the 50-year-old.

The blood-soaked victim managed to stagger to a neighbour’s house while pleading: “Help me – I’ve been stabbed.”

Paul – described as a “sweet guy” who sold the Big Issue in Glasgow city centre and East Kilbride – never recovered following the attack in the city’s Knightswood on June 15, 2019.

Cowan had denied murder insisting he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.

But, the 47-year-old was found guilty following a four-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

It emerged he already had a history of violence including convictions for assault and having offensive weapons. 

He was also on bail at the time.

Lord Matthews – who imposed a life sentence – told him: “You repeatedly struck Mr Kelly with a knife. The pathological evidence was fairly horrific.”

Witness Julie Miller earlier told prosecutor Greg Farrell how she had been in bed on the morning of the attack when she heard a man screaming for help.

The 38-year-old said: “I went to get towels. He was hunched over. I could see blood. He was in trouble.

“I tried to find out where he was injured and who had done this to him.
“He did say: ‘Help me – I think I’m dying’ a couple of times.”

Miss Miller and her partner Calum Campbell continued to help stricken Paul while a 999 call was made.

Mr Campbell recalled: “I asked him what happened and he said: ‘I was broken into’, but he didn’t say anymore.”

Paul did not survive having suffered a fatal stab wound to the abdomen.
Cowan was later traced in the Knightswood area via CCTV.

A bloodstained Sabatier knife – said to be up to eight inches long – was discovered in a bin that Cowan had earlier walked past.

Prosecutors said the killer had gone to Paul’s home with intent to steal and murdered him.

Cowan had admitted during the trial to causing the death.

But, jurors heard how he told psychiatrist Dr Gordon Skilling that he had “no recollection” of the crime.

He claimed to have been taking amphetamine, abusing alcohol and that his mental health had been affected.

Cowan added he knew Paul and had “bumped into him” that day again

Dr Skilling said Cowan suffered from a dissocial personality disorder. But, he went on: “In my opinion, the primary factor…was the level of substance and alcohol abuse at the time. 

“In my opinion, the mental disorder was not the main factor in the incident that day.”

Before his death, Paul was known for his catchphrase, ‘Don’t be shy, give it a try”, while selling the Big Issue outside a Sainsbury’s supermarket in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street.

A memorial vigil was later held there.

Big Issue editor Paul McNamee said at the time the vendor was a “sweet man” who had “plenty to say”.

He added: “Paul was both tough and really gentle. He was such a part of Glasgow city centre.”

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