Mr Scotland killer has sentence cut by two and a half years

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image captionSteven Kirkwood claimed he acted in self defence when he stabbed Michael O'Hanlon

A man who stabbed a bodybuilding champion to death has had his jail sentence cut by appeal judges.

Steven Kirkwood, 44, was originally sentenced to 14 and a half years imprisonment after he repeatedly knifed former Mr Scotland Michael O'Hanlon.

He claimed that the sentence by trial judge Lady Rae was "excessive".

At the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, the original sentence was quashed and replaced with a 12-year jail term.

Lord Malcolm, who heard the appeal with Lady Paton, said: "While we can understand that for the deceased's family it is unlikely that any sentence can be described as excessive, we are persuaded that some weight should be attached to the jury's view as to the appellant acting under provocation."

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image captionMichael O'Hanlon won the National Amateur Body Building Association Mr Scotland title in March 2016

Kirkwood had faced a murder charge after fatally stabbing Mr O'Hanlon, 45, from Irvine, following a confrontation at a garage in Stevenston, Ayrshire, on 25 July last year.

But following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow, jurors unanimously convicted him of the lesser offence of culpable homicide under provocation.

Kirkwood watched the appeal proceedings challenging the original sentence via a live link to Shotts prison.

Lord Malcolm said: "The principal ground of appeal against sentence, and in our view the only one with any substance, is that the sentencing judge failed to give sufficient weight, or indeed any weight, to the provocation rider added to the jury's verdict of culpable homicide."

Deep wounds

He said Lady Rae had stated in her report that she made no allowance for it as, in her view, it explained the decision to return a verdict of culpable homicide rather than murder.

It seemed clear she considered that given the severity of the knife wounds to the victim then, but for the provocation, the offence would have been murder.

But Lord Malcolm said: "That may have been the jury's view or it may not. They were quite properly directed they could return a verdict of culpable homicide with or without a rider of provocation. In the event, they chose the latter."

Lord Malcolm said the sentencing judge was undoubtedly correct to say it was a serious offence requiring a significant sentence.

"The overwhelming evidence was that the appellant brought a knife to a confrontation which he had arranged. He used the knife in a sustained and fatal attack which resulted in a number of injuries, including four deep knife wounds on both sides of the deceased's chest and abdomen," he said.

The attack on Mr O'Hanlon followed an exchange of abusive messages between Kirkwood and his former partner, Eileen, who was due to marry the victim.

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