By Paul Thornton
A CONVICTED killer freed from his life sentence early has been put back behind bars after he was caught dealing heroin during a police sting.
Thug Francis McNeilly, 48, was jailed for life at the High Court in Edinburgh in 1981 after being convicted of murdering a West Lothian man who drowned in his own blood after being savagely battered to death.
A jury returned a majority guilty against McNeilly after he knocked William McIlwraith, 22, to the ground before repeatedly banging his head off the pavement.
The court heard he jumped in the air and stamped on his face and head seven times, kicking him about the body and punching him repeatedly outside a Bathgate nightclub, causing the man to drown in his own blood.
He was released on licence in 2002 under controversial European rules which made headlines as it saw 25 other murderers also set loose.
But now McNeilly is to be kept in jail until at least February 2011 after a police sting caught him selling the class A drug from his Fauldhouse home in West Lothian.
McNeilly’s licence was recalled after police raided his home and caught him with the deadly drug in December last year.
At Livingston Sheriff Court McNeilly admitted being concerned in the supply of diamorphine.
Fiscal depute Lisa McCloy told the court how McNeilly sent undercover cops a text message telling them he could supply them with heroin.
His Church Place address was later raided and he was caught with two “tenner bags” of the evil substance on Decemeber 12, 2008.
McNeilly’s lawyer, Iain Smith, told the court how his client’s past had now caught up with him.
Mr Smith said: “The consequences seem to be massive, he appreciates that is his own fault.
“Because of something he did when he was a young man he is going to experience more serious difficulties.”
Mr Smith said McNeilly was arrested around the same time as up to 20 other drug dealers during a series of test purchases by Lothian and Borders Police.
He said McNeilly had received threats over false claims he was a police informant.
Mr Smith said: “He has come under threats as a result of it being perceived that he has provided information to police – that is simply not the case.”
He added that McNeilly’s earliest date to be considered for parole was now February 2011.
Sheriff Donald Ferguson jailed McNeilly for four months on Wednesday but admitted the punishment paled in comparison to the recall of his licence.
Sheriff Ferguson said: “This is a serious matter in its own right. To a certain extent there is very limited sentencing open to this court due to you being recalled on licence.”