Life for pair behind island’s first murder in over 40 years

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Two men who killed a teenager in the first murder case in the Western Isles for more than 40 years have been jailed for at least 18 years each.

Liam Aitchison, 16, was found dead in a derelict building in the Steinish area of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in November 2011.

The teenager, who would have celebrated his 18th birthday this month, had been struck on the head and body with a knife and bottle and had his head stamped on repeatedly, during what police called a “senseless and sustained” attack.

Johnathan MacKinnon and Stefan Millar, both 22, denied murder but were found guilty of the crime by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this month.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Lord Kinclaven handed both killers life sentences and ordered them to spend at least 18 years behind bars before they can be considered for release.

“This was the brutal murder of a young man who was only 16 years of age,” he told the pair during a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Liam’s relatives said the cold-blooded killers were “getting off lightly”, and insisted that life imprisonment should mean life.

Speaking outside court, the victim’s stepmother, Claire Aitchison, 39, said: “Nothing that happened in court today can change what happened and nothing can bring back Liam, our crazy diamond.

“We are happy that justice has been done and that these two brutal murderers will spend a long time in prison.

“We believe, however, that they are getting off lightly. Life imprisonment should mean life.”

Liam, originally from South Uist, believed the killers were his friends. He worked and socialised with Millar and MacKinnon after he moved to Stornoway.

But the pair beat and stabbed the teenager on November 23, 2011, then left him to die in the remote derelict building. His body was discovered several days later.

Police said the Western Isles is normally one of the safest places in Scotland.

The last murder on Lewis was in 1968 when 80-year-old Mary Mackenzie was found dead in her cottage on the west side of the island in Brue.

In 2006 a murder inquiry was launched into the death of Murdo Macdonald but the charge was reduced to serious assault when it reached court.