A FORMER soldier who killed a dad-of-one by stabbing him through the heart following a row over a £40 drug debt has been jailed for eight years.

Liam Donnelly, 27, from Plains, was originally charged with murdering his victim in Holytown on February 22 last year.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Donnelly’s plea of guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide under provocation was accepted by the Crown.

The court heard that the victim was demanding the
£40 he was owed and had earlier vandalised Donnelly’s partner’s home.

Donnelly, also a dad-of-one, and two friends went to the man’s home to remonstrate with him and they were confronted by the victim, who armed himself with a knife and a wooden pole.

Jailing Donnelly, judge Lady Rae told him: “Instead of reporting the matter to the police you decided to take the law into your own hands.

“The victim’s behaviour was unacceptable, but he did not deserve to die.

“I am prepared to deal with this more leniently than I normally would.”

Defence QC Brian McConnachie, representing Donnelly, said: “He accepts full responsibility for his actions and is extremely remorseful.

“Mr Donnelly aimed for the victim’s arm, but the knife went though his heart. As a result of his experiences in the Army he is thought to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.”

The court was told that, on February 15 last year, the victim supplied diazepam to Donnelly, his girlfriend and another friend on credit.

He sent threatening texts to the woman demanding £40 and vandalised her home. He then called her and when Donnelly grabbed the phone and spoke to the victim, a heated argument broke out.

Donnelly called a taxi around 5.30am and, along with friends Ryan Downie and Alan Dunion, went to the victim’s home.

Donnelly was armed with a knife and the victim also had a knife and a piece of fencing post.

The man began swinging it at Donnelly, Downie and Dunion, and then slashed Dunion on the left side of his face with a knife.

At this point Donnelly stabbed the man in the heart, causing massive internal bleeding. He died later in Wishaw General Hospital.

The knife which inflicted the fatal injury was never found.

Donnelly suffered fractures to his fingers, which were consistent with being struck by a wooden pole.

Dunion had a six-inch slash to his face and needed 15 sutures.

Downie and Dunion, both 24 and from Coatbridge, were also originally charged with the murder of the victim, but their pleas of not guilty were accepted by the Crown.

Dunion admitted having a knife in his possession at Sunnyside Crescent, Coatbridge, and Monklands Hospital and Downie, a first offender, admitted having the knife in his possession in the hospital after Dunion handed it to him there.

Lady Rae admonished Downie and jailed Dunion for 12 months.