Glasgow & West Scotland

James Nolan jailed for murder of Malcolm Ballantyne

James Lee Nolan and Malcolm Ballantyne Image copyright Spindrift/other
Image caption James Nolan (left) was jailed for life for the murder of Malcolm Ballantyne, (right) in Saltcoats

A violent criminal has been jailed for life after he admitted murdering a pensioner by stabbing him 64 times.

James Nolan launched the deadly attack on Malcolm Ballantyne, 72, at his flat in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, last August.

Mr Ballantyne's daughter later found her father's blood-covered body on his living room floor. Meanwhile, Nolan, 33, fled to England.

At the High Court in Glasgow he was ordered to serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars.

Judge Lady Rae told him he was responsible for the death of a "vulnerable and defenceless" old man in what was a "cruel killing".

'Extremely violent'

After Nolan was sentenced, the senior investigating officer on the case described it as an "extremely violent, unprovoked attack" which had left Mr Ballantyne's family and friends "completely devastated".

Det Supt Gary Cunningham added: "It is hard to imagine how difficult the last year has been for Mr Ballantyne's family, however, I hope that today's verdict provides some comfort and closure to them, knowing that the person responsible will be in custody for a considerable time."

Image copyright John McGowan
Image caption Mr Ballantyne's body was found in his flat in Saltcoats

The court heard that Mr Ballantyne, who was known as Malky, was well-liked in Saltcoats and had "no known enemies".

He suffered from poor health but his daughter said he was in "good spirits" when she last saw him a day before the murder.

Prosecutor Andrew Brown QC said the motive for the killing last August "remains unclear", adding that it was not known if the pensioner knew Nolan.

However, the court was told Mr Ballantyne would allow people into his close when they chapped his living room window.

Early on 21 August, one of the pensioner's neighbours spotted a man standing near his window. This was after a male was heard "shouting aggressively".

A couple of hours later, Nolan stormed into his mother's home in Saltcoats and demanded that she get up.

'Red mist'

Nolan - who spent the hours before the killing downing valium and alcohol - said he had stabbed a man adding that it was a "bad one".

The hearing was told there were a total of 64 stab wounds on Mr Ballantyne's head, neck, chest, arms and back. He also had 40 rib fractures.

Nolan fled to Brighton, where his father lived, and confessed to his step-sister that he had "gone mad on a guy".

He claimed the "red mist had come down" adding he "stabbed him loads of times and the guy died".

Amid a large-scale probe to catch the killer, a Crimestoppers appeal was launched with a £10,000 reward.

A call was received about Nolan admitting to his mother that he had stabbed someone in Saltcoats and his DNA was found on an item in Mr Ballantyne's flat.

The court heard that he had 51 previous convictions, including for violent offences and for possessing a knife.

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