Glasgow & West Scotland

Garry Smith jailed for life for murdering Graeme Ferry

Graeme Ferry
Image caption Graeme Ferry's body was found in Cleland on 12 September

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his friend and dumping his body in an unmarked grave.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Garry Smith, 34, was told he must serve at least 18 years for killing 24-year-old Graeme Ferry on 2 April last year.

Mr Ferry's body was found buried on wasteland in North Lanarkshire five months later.

Co-accused Andrew Shilliday, 38, who admitted helping to conceal the body, was jailed for five years.

Smith and Shilliday admitted the charges against them at an earlier hearing at the High Court in Glasgow in May.

The court heard that on 2 April last year Shilliday, Smith, Mr Ferry and a fourth man, Michael Archibald, were celebrating Smith's birthday at a house in John Bowman Gardens, Bellshill.

Hit with bottle

They left in the early hours in a car and a row developed between Smith and Mr Ferry and they got out of the car.

Smith later told police that he and Mr Ferry got in a fight. Smith said he hit him with a bottle on the face and then kicked and punched him on the head.

When he walked back to see where Mr Ferry was, he saw he was lying dead, face down in a puddle.

The court heard that Smith hid Mr Ferry's body before returning a couple of days later with a man, who he refused to identify, and moved the body using Shilliday's car.

Mr Ferry was dumped naked in a makeshift grave dug out at a landfill site.

Bricks and slates had been positioned round his head and a large concrete slab was placed over the top directly on his face.

For five months after the murder, Smith kept up the pretence that Mr Ferry was still alive and even phoned his mother asking if there was any news.

The court heard that Mr Ferry had usually been constantly on his mobile phone and his family became concerned when all phone contact ceased after the early hours of 2 April 2011.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran, prosecuting, said: "By 4 April his mother had become very concerned, not only that her son had not come home, but he had not phoned her or anyone else.

Killer's confession

"Police commenced a missing person's enquiry. In the days following 2 April, Smith made telephone contact with a friend of Mr Ferry, during which he spoke to his mother."

Mr McSporran told the court that Mr Ferry's mother "entertained hopes that he might yet be found alive, before Smith eventually confessed the truth".

Smith finally confessed to police what he had done in September last year.

He told them: "It's all down to me. I'll tell you everything. I'll show you where the body is. It's all down to me."

He took police twice to where he thought the body was buried and on the second occasion Mr Ferry's remains were discovered in an area of wasteland at Chapelknowe Road, Cleland.

The court heard that Smith, from Bellshill, also pleaded guilty to attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing the body.

Shilliday also admitted attempting to defeat the ends of justice by lending his car to Smith to dispose of the body.

Judge Lady Stacey imposed a life sentence on Smith and told him the minimum jail-term would have been 20 years, but for the guilty plea.

The judge told him: "You attacked Graeme Ferry by punching and kicking him. You knocked him down and killed him.

"You moved his body and buried him. His family were put through the anguish that he might be a missing person, who may come home.

'Mental anguish'

"It was only through painstaking police work that you admitted your part."

Speaking following sentencing, John Dunn, procurator fiscal for the west of Scotland, said: "Graeme Ferry was violently murdered by Garry Smith who was then assisted by Andrew Shilliday in a futile attempt to cover up this heinous act.

"Taking the life of another is the most serious crime and must therefore come with the most serious consequences as today's sentences demonstrate.

"I would like to express my sincere condolences to Mr Ferry's family and friends, and especially to his mother. I cannot imagine the mental anguish she has suffered because of the actions of these two men."

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