South Scotland

Dean Melnyk and Andrew Brown face life terms for Ecclefechan murder

Dean Melnyk and Andrew Brown Image copyright Police
Image caption Dean Melnyk, left, and Andrew Brown face life sentences for the murder

Two men are facing life sentences for stabbing a man they blamed for the drugs death of a friend.

Dean Melnyk, 20, of Lockerbie, was found guilty by a jury of murdering Kevin MacKay in Ecclefechan.

Co-accused Andrew Brown, 23, of Ecclefechan, had previously admitted the attack in August last year.

Judge Lord Armstrong deferred sentence until June when he will determine how long they have to serve before being eligible to apply for parole.

The pair believed their 39-year-old victim had supplied the drugs which had killed their teenage friend Jamie Abba - nicknamed Jabba.

Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption The court heard how the pair went to Kevin MacKay's house and stabbed him to death

The High Court in Glasgow heard the attack on Mr MacKay took place just hours after the 19-year-old's funeral.

Melnyk told jurors that he was "drunk and angry" when he and Brown went to Peacock Place in Ecclefechan on 22 August last year and attacked Mr MacKay - known as Kesty.

During his trial he denied murdering Mr MacKay, but admitted culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

However, the jury rejected the suggestion that he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the killing.

Melnyk said he was devastated when Mr Abba died and suffered nightmares and flashbacks in which his friend appeared to him and said: "Help me."

The court heard that at the teenager's wake Melnyk had become increasingly angry and at one point Brown - known as Buster - came over and spoke to him.

"Buster said 'We'll go and give Kesty a kicking' to try and cheer me up," Melnyk said.

He told the court that the two got a lift to Ecclefechan and, after going into another house in the village, Brown led him to where Mr MacKay was staying.

Image caption Police said the village had gone through a "traumatic time" since last summer

He added: "We both had a knife each - I saw Buster stabbing Kesty.

"Kesty was on his feet and Buster was stabbing him.

"I was in shock - Buster was turning the furniture over and shouting: 'You killed Jabba, Kesty.'"

Melnyk said Mr MacKay had spotted he had a knife and had grabbed his leg.

"I couldn't get him off me, he was much bigger," he told the court.

"Buster kicked him off and I began stabbing Kesty - I don't know how many times.

"The handle broke off the knife."

The court heard that after the killing, Melnyk made his way to a friend's house in Lockerbie and told him: "I think I've killed Kesty."

Brown, a fisherman, told police that Mr MacKay had been attacked by two men wearing balaclavas and he had tried to help fight them off.

A charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice against Jennifer Melnyk, 60, was dropped during the trial.

Police in Dumfries and Galloway said they hoped the village could "start to move forward" after the convictions.

Ch Insp Steven Lowther said: "The village and community of Ecclefechan have gone through a traumatic time recently.

"The death of Jamie Abba and the murder of Kevin MacKay have left two families devastated.

"These events have clearly affected the wider community as well."

He said police would work hard with residents to "help bring some sort of normality back to the village".

"Of course we understand that there are still tensions in and around the village," he added.

"However, we want to make it quite clear that, as in the past, tensions which boil over into acts which break the law will be dealt with firmly and robustly."

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