A teenager who stabbed a schoolboy to death in a “completely senseless” murder at a train station in Glasgow has been handed a life sentence.
Daniel Haig, 18, stabbed Justin McLaughlin in the heart during a broad daylight attack on October 16, 2021 after chasing the victim who tripped and fell.
Jurors previously heard how the dying schoolboy – who had celebrated his birthday two days earlier – begged for his mum as friends came to his aid on the platform of High Street station.
Justin was rushed to hospital, but never survived the single blow delivered by Haig, who was 16 at the time.
At the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday, was ordered to serve at least 16 years in prison before he becomes eligible to seek release on licence, backdated to October 19 2021 when he was taken into custody.
During sentencing, the judge said Justin’s “brutal” murder was “completely senseless” and had a “devastating effect” on the 14-year-old’s family.
Lord Clark told Haig: “They are left with dreadful loss you have caused for the rest of their lives.
He continued: “Justin McLaughlin was only 14, a child, and he was getting back on his feet when you stabbed him. He was in a defenceless position.”
The judge said the victim and those with him were from a different area of Glasgow than Haig and added it was “deeply disturbing” to see gang activity still happening.
Haig had earlier denied murdering his victim but admitted stabbing the schoolboy and claimed that he only wanted to “injure” him following a fight at the station.
But jurors at his earlier trial at the High Court in Glasgow rejected that and convicted him of murdering his victim after pursuing him, brandishing the lethal weapon and striking the younger boy on the body with the knife.
The trial heard that the victim and his friends had arrived at the train station and spotted Haig and a friend. Haig said to his friend: “All of them are running at us.”
He told the court that got a knife from his rucksack and slipped it into his waistband. His friend urged him “not to do anything stupid”.
But Haig ran at the group and a clash broke out on the platform. After the scuffle ended Haig jumped onto the track to retrieve the bladed weapon which he had dropped.
CCTV footage captured him running after the youngsters. Justin tripped and fell before Haig caught up with him and plunged the knife into him. As Haig fled from the station he discarded the knife in a bin.
A 14-year-old friend of the victim said: “Justin was trying to stand up. He kept saying ‘I need my mum…I need to go home’.”
“His lips had turned blue and white. The other boys were crying,” the court heard.
Justin’s phone rang as he lay stricken at the station and the witness said: “It was like his mum or something.”
During the trial Haig said that he had the blade for “protection” and claimed that he was attacked a day earlier.
He feared that Justin and the others had followed him. He maintained that he planned to use the weapon to chase them off, but admitted stabbing the schoolboy, but only to cause a “minor injury”.
Haig claimed: “It was never my intention to kill anyone.” He said he felt “really bad about it”.
Advocate depute Steven Borthwick KC put to Haig that after the fight stopped he was under no threat, but retrieved the knife from the tracks and chased after the other group.
The prosecutor said that Haig was intending to do serious damage to one of them, but Haig denied that.
Following the verdict it emerged that Haig had attacked a man with a garden fork and was later caught with a blade before the murder was committed.
On July 31 in 2021 Callum McDonald had been at a bar in the Baillieston area of Glasgow before becoming involved in an altercation with the teenager on the street and was assaulted with a garden fork or similar item. He suffered cuts and bleeding.
Two days later Haig was searched at Glasgow Green and was found in possession of a knife. He had admitted these offences prior to his trial.
After the verdict the victim’s family paid tribute to their “blue-eyed boy” with a “smile that lit up the room”.
They said: “Justin had his full life ahead of him. Our life will never be the same. He was the character of the family – his younger brothers miss him so much. He was their best friend as well as a brother. It is a family devastated by knife crime.”
Defence counsel John Scullion KC said of Haig: “He accepted pursuing Justin McLaughlin and striking him with a knife, causing his death, but he denied an intention to kill. It is clear from information in the (social work) report that that remains his position.”
“He now bitterly regrets his actions and the tragic consequences for the deceased and his family,” he said.
Mr Scullion said Haig had “adverse childhood experiences during formative years” and by the time he was 16 he was regularly using drugs and alcohol.
The defence counsel said the case represented “a tragic waste of human life”.