Stuart McCulloch guilty of Samuel Johnston murder in Saltcoats
A teenager has been convicted of murder after fatally stabbing his best friend's brother at a party.
Stuart McCulloch, 18, from Saltcoats, killed Samuel Johnston at a flat in the North Ayrshire town's Parkend Gardens on 26 October last year.
Co-accused Allan Carey, 19, from Ardrossan, was cleared of murder, but convicted of the reduced charge of culpable homicide.
Sentence on both was deferred and they were remanded in custody.
A murder charge over Mr Johnston's death against a third man, Fergal Morgan, from Drumchapel, Glasgow, was withdrawn.
The High Court in Glasgow heard how trouble flared at the party in Parkend Gardens after host Leona Conn, 19, asked everyone to leave when a hole was punched in one of her doors.
During the trouble, McCulloch stabbed father-of-one Mr Johnston through the heart.
Friends at the party, and a neighbour, tried desperately to save his life, but he died from massive blood loss.
Both accused had denied murder during the trial.
The Crown said that although Carey did not deliver the fatal blow he had taken part in the attack on Mr Johnston with McCulloch.
The court heard that first offender McCulloch had just returned from Romania where he had been doing charity work shortly before the murder.
Prosecutor Sheena Fraser told the jury that the murder weapon had Mr Johnston's blood on it and McCulloch's DNA on the handle.
In evidence McCulloch denied stabbing Mr Johnston to death. He claimed that the killer was Mr Morgan, who was originally also charged with murder.
McCulloch said the reason that his DNA was on the murder weapon was because as they left the flat, Morgan handed him the murder weapon and asked him to throw it away.
But Morgan was cleared of murder during the trial after the Crown withdrew the charge.
The 22-year-old is currently serving a sentence for robbing and assaulting a 68-year-old woman in Ardrossan and three weeks later attacking a man in his Ardrossan home
In evidence he told the court he heard McCulloch say he had stabbed Mr Johnston, but added: "I didn't believe him."
Morgan admitted that he had sent texts to a number of women saying he had stabbed Mr Johnston, but said this was "showing off" and "bravado".
When he was asked by Donald Findlay QC, representing McCulloch, if he was the killer he replied: "I didn't kill Sam."
Morgan was asked who had carried out the stabbing and said: "Stuart. He told me."
He told the court that McCulloch showed him two knives and added: "I took the long knife off him and put it down a drain."
When asked what happened to the other knife Morgan replied: "I told Stuart to get rid of it. He threw it. I didn't know where it went."
McCulloch faces a mandatory life sentence for murder and will learn later how long he must serve before being eligible for parole.