A former soldier in Scotland has been jailed for life after he murdered his best friend with a dumbbell.

Kyle McAuley, 30, bludgeoned Kevin McCluskey, 28,  to death using the 7kg weight, hitting him over the head five times.

He then took photos of his battered pal and sent the images to two women.

He laughed during a 999 call in which he claimed he had found a stranger lying outside his flat in Greenock, reports the Daily Record.

He carried out the brutal early-morning attack last March.

At the High Court in Glasgow yesterday, judge Lord Mulholland ordered McAuley to spend at least 18 years in prison.

Murder victim Kevin McCluskey

He told McAuley: “You have been convicted of murdering your friend.

"You bludgeoned him with a dumbbell weighing 7kgs and hit him five times. While he lay dying, you cared only for yourself.

“You photographed his dead or dying body and sent photos to your ex-partner and your then-girlfriend.

The victim was bludgeoned to death with a 7kg weight

“You moved his body and tried to make it look as if he had a knife and you had killed him in self-defence. But the jury saw through your web of lies.

“Whether you are ever released will be a decision for the parole board.”

The court heard that when police arrived at the murder scene, McAuley said of Kevin: “Get this f***ing guy away from me.”

He claimed he didn’t know Kevin then later told officers he was acting in self-defence as his friend came at him with a knife.

The victim was just 28 years old

He told the jury: “He said he was going to kill me. He was going nuts. He was right in my face, pushing his head against my face. I was scared.”

McAuley admitted he had already punched Kevin on the head and smashed him once with the dumbbell before he claimed he saw a knife in his pal’s hand.

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Kevin suffered a fractured skull, a smashed jaw, nose and cheekbones, and bruising to the brain. McAuley, who served in the Scots Guards, had no injuries.

CCTV footage showed the pair laughing and joking hours earlier in a pub. No explanation was given why McAuley launched the frenzied attack.

McAuley was convicted of murdering Kevin, then taking photos of his body and sending them to his then girlfriend and his ex-partner and attempting to pervert the course of justice by moving Kevin’s body and placing a knife near it.

Dad-of-two McAuley showed no emotion as he was led to the cells. Family and friends of Kevin shouted, “Coward”, “Kill yourself” and “Scumbag” at him.