A Kirkcaldy man who killed his nephew in a knife attack after they were drinking following the death of a relative from cancer has been jailed for seven years and seven months.
A judge told David Clark: “You picked up a knife and you stabbed your victim in the thigh. You used a weapon and took a life with it. Your voluntary intoxication is no excuse.”
Lord Kinclaven said: “You have accepted responsibility for a very serious offence, the culpable homicide, the blameworthy killing, of your nephew Andrew Clark, who was 45 years of age.
“He was described this morning as being your unofficial carer,” the judge said at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday.
Lord Kinclaven added: “Clearly there is no alternative to a significant custodial sentence. No other method of dealing with you is appropriate.”
The judge told Clark (61), that he would have faced a 12-year prison term, but for his guilty plea and time he had already spent in custody.
The court heard that during a call to emergency services Clark revealed there had been a stabbing and said it was “a family matter”.
He told police that he had ended up fighting with his nephew who “got a hole in the leg”.
After the trouble stopped the victim said to his uncle: “Look what you’ve done to me.”
Advocate depute Andrew Brown QC said he was referring to a wound to his inner thigh which was bleeding.
The stabbing victim told his girlfriend, Elaine Robertson, that he wanted to go to bed and sleep and his leg was dressed to stem the bleeding before going to a bedroom at his uncle’s home.
He was left alone for a time but Ms Robertson later went to check on him and found him in bed covered in blood.
The prosecutor said: “She tried to rouse him but it would appear that Mr Clark may have been dead already.”
She raised the alarm and emergency services were called and instructions were given on carrying out cardiopulmonary resuscitation and both she and the uncle performed it.
Clark asked for police to attend and said he would speak to them, the court heard.
Paramedics arrived at his flat in Forth View, Kirkcaldy, in the early hours of August 8 last year to find Ms Robertson still tending to her boyfriend.
The advocate depute said: “He was naked and had a large amount of blood from his mid thighs down. Blood was on the floor, walls and bedding.”
The victim, who was living in Glenrothes but was originally from Aberdeen, was found to have died following the stab wound to the right thigh which damaged the femoral vein.
Clark earlier admitted killing his nephew and assaulting him by seizing him by the throat, punching him on the body and stabbing him.
A knife was found in a kitchen drawer at his home and forensic examination confirmed that blood from the victim was on its hilt.
The advocate depute said: “The offence seems to have stemmed from an alcohol driven argument about the deceased’s father after both men had been drinking for 12 hours.”
He said the uncle and nephew and Ms Robertson had met up on August 7 following the death of a relative from cancer.
“There had been no animosity previously and witnesses instead describe the three as being in good spirits while in public houses prior to returning to the accused’s flat shortly after midnight,” he said.
But shortly after they arrived back at the flat neighbours heard shouting which became louder.
“It sounded to neighbours as if items were being thrown around,” said the advocate depute.
Ms Robertson said there had been an argument between the men over the deceased’s father and money which got out of hand and the killer became extremely angry.
The victim was sitting on a sofa and the older man seized him by the neck. The nephew kicked out in retaliation and Ms Robertson shouted at them to stop, which they did for a short time.
But the row broke out again and the uncle punched his nephew and had a hold of his neck.
Ms Robertson then noticed her boyfriend had a cut to his thigh but did not see a knife and after the fighting stopped the victim said: “What have you done to me.”
When the uncle was detained for murder he told police: “It’s not murder.”
The Crown accepted his guilty plea to a reduced charge of culpable homicide.
Mr Brown told the court that the deceased’s mother and sister had provided victim impact statements and added: “They are clearly devastated by his death.”
Defence counsel Gordon Jackson QC said Clark was “very remorseful for his actions” and ashamed.
“He has always been on good terms with his nephew and he says the younger man was effectively his unofficial carer,” he said.
He said Clark had suffered heart attacks and strokes and was not fit to work. He said the nephew was due to help Clark with some painting.
Mr Jackson said Clark did not remember stabbing the victim or using the knife.
He added it was undoubtedly a tragic case.