South Scotland

Dean Rippon admits Hawick murder charge

High Court in Edinburgh
Image caption The High Court in Edinburgh was told Mr Swailes died after being stabbed and hit to the head

A 20-year-old from the Borders has admitted the murder of a man in his own home in November last year.

Dean Rippon, formerly of Stonefield Place in Hawick, killed Christopher Swailes at a property in the town's Liddesdale Road.

His victim died after suffering a stab wound to his chest and blunt force injuries to the head.

The case at the High Court in Edinburgh was adjourned for a background report and Rippon was remanded in custody.

The court heard how Rippon had originally told detectives he could not have committed the murder as he had been in police custody suspected of shoplifting.

However, the officers had already noticed that his clothes and shoes were bloodstained.

He told them: "I'm not getting done for murder.

"It couldn't be me because I was in custody at Hawick last night."

He added: "I wouldn't hit him over the head, he's not got a fight in him, he's my best mate."

He had already revealed to witnesses that he had hurt someone and carried out a stabbing.

The court was told Rippon and his victim had gone to a shop on the day of the murder, when Mr Swailes had bought vodka and cider.

Advocate depute Andrew Brown QC said a neighbour later heard the sound of an argument coming from the flat before Rippon was seen "sauntering away" from the block.

He later told a witness: "I've hurt someone."

He also said that he had stabbed somebody and was sorry.

Rippon made his way to a Morrison's supermarket but was asked to stop by a security officer before running off.

Police detained him on suspicion of shoplifting and he was taken to Hawick police station.

The next morning, a neighbour of Mr Swailes phoned the police after returning from work to find his flat door was still open.

Officers went into the flat and found the victim with his dog standing over him.

Detectives then went to Selkirk Sheriff Court where Rippon was being held and were told he was due to be freed over the shoplifting allegation.

Instead, he was taken to an interview room where police "immediately saw what appeared to be significant blood staining on his clothing and footwear".

Forensic scientists later found a DNA match with the murder victim when examining blood from the right shoe.

'Beyond the norm'

A bloodstained knife found in the living room of the flat also provided a DNA match with Mr Swailes when samples were taken from the blade.

Mr Brown said that Rippon was seen by a forensic psychiatrist who concluded that he was sane and fit to plead.

Defence counsel Neil Murray QC told the judge, Lady Smith, that the assault Rippon had committed went "quite beyond the norm".

The judge told Rippon that he had pled guilty to a murder arising from "horrific assaults".

He will receive a life sentence for the crime but the judge will have to set a minimum term he must serve in jail before becoming eligible to apply for parole.

Det Insp Stuart Houston, who led the investigation, said: "My thoughts are first and foremost with Christopher Swailes's family and I sincerely hope that today's guilty plea by Dean Rippon will allow those who knew and cared for Christopher to move on with their lives.

"This was a crime that shocked the local community, and from the outset of this investigation, the community rallied round and provided us with information and assistance that was crucial in helping to bring this case to court."

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