By Paul Thornton
A TEENAGER has been jailed for four years over the death of a 58-year-old mentally disabled man.
Jason Laird was just 15 years old when he approached Robert Malcolm at a bus shelter in Clydebank.
He rained punches and kicks onto Mr Malcolm and his victim was found lying beside a set of goalposts shortly after midnight.
Mr Malcolm was taken first to the Western General in Glasgow and then to Stobhill intensive care unit and finally the Western Infirmary.
But he never regained consciousness and died two weeks after the attack due to a haemorrhage to the stomach and blunt force injury to the head.
Laird was originally charged with Mr Malcolm’s murder but earlier this month admitted culpable at the High Court in Glasgow.
The court heard how Laird had set about Mr Malcolm at a grassy area between Duntocher Road and the A82 in the West Dumbartonshire town on July 11, last year.
He repeatedly kicked and punched Mr Malcolm, who suffered from chronic schizophrenia, and could appear aggressive to strangers.
Mr Malcolm, described by his family as a loner, died on July 25 at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow.
Today (Tuesday) at the High Court in Livingston Laird’s solicitor Gordon Jackson QC told the court that his client had reacted badly when faced with Mr Malcolm’s unusual demeanour.
Mr Jackson said: “At one point the young men said when they asked him for a cigarette that he was aggressive and cheeky to them. He was not but that is how he may have presented to the young men.
“Having asked him asked him for a cigarette and he having been, not frightening but difficult to deal with for young men, what happened, happened.”
Mr Jackson said that his client – who had been downing cider the night of the attack – had now cut down his drinking and that he was shocked at a background report which assessed Laird, now 16, as a high risk of reoffending.
Social workers had said that Laird had shown little understanding of the impact of his actions.
Mr Jackson added: “There is no question about how bad he felt about it, just that he is not able to articulate that.”
Sentencing Judge Lord Matthews said: “The deceased could have been verbally aggressive but that does not in any way excuse what you did, nor does your state of intoxication at the time.
“Despite your youth and previous good character I cannot ignore the fact that you caused the death of another human being through violence.”
He added: “Apart from your use of alcohol you have led a useful life up to now.
“I am prepared to take on board what was said by Mr Jackson, particularly about the contents of various reports on you, and I do not intend to make any provision for supervision after your release from the custodial sentence which I am going to impose.”
Lord Matthews said that, because Laird had admitted killing Mr Malcolm, he would reduce the sentence by two years.
He sentenced Laird, of Janetta Street, Clydebank, to four years in prison.