Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Man jailed for 'merciless' knife murder of friend

James Caven, left, had denied murdering Colin Armstrong Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption James Caven, left, had denied murdering Colin Armstrong

A man has been jailed for at least 20 years after being found guilty of the "cruel and merciless" murder of his friend and neighbour.

James Caven, 39, had denied murdering Colin Armstrong, 49, in Macmerry, East Lothian, on 7 October last year.

But a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh returned a unanimous guilty verdict to the charge.

The court had heard how Caven stabbed Mr Armstrong 27 times during an attack at a house in Greenmill Brae.

Judge Lord Uist said Caven, from Macmerry, had carried out a "horrific and gruesome murder" of his neighbour and friend.

Image caption Colin Armstrong's body was found at a house in Macmerry

"He met a terrible end when he was subjected to a cruel and merciless attack with a knife by you, resulting in a total of 27 stab wounds, 14 on the neck, eight on the front of the chest, four on the back and one on the left arm," said the judge.

"Only you know what caused you to do this. In response to the overwhelming evidence against you, you lied and lied and lied again.

"You have shown no remorse for what you did and even falsely blamed men in an attempt to cover up your guilt.

"The sentence for murder is fixed by law and I must now impose that sentence on you. I sentence you to imprisonment for life."

He said Caven would have to serve at least 20 years before he can become eligible for parole.

'Shift the blame'

The court had heard how Caven held a grudge against Mr Armstrong.

Det Sgt Neil Seath, of Police Scotland, said: "Colin Armstrong gave his friendship to James Caven only to be repaid with incidents of escalating violence, leading ultimately to a vicious, sustained and murderous knife assault.

"Caven, rather than providing an explanation which may have given Colin's family some level of understanding, chose to try and shift the blame onto others, resulting in extensive inquiries having to be made to eliminate innocent individuals.

"His conviction is welcomed and a testimony to the hard work of the officers involve in this investigation.

"My thoughts are with Colin's family and I pay tribute to them for the dignity and strength shown throughout this tragedy, and I sincerely hope this brings some form of closure for them."

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