The evil killers of Angus man Steven Donaldson have been jailed for a combined 57 years.
At the High Court in Edinburgh, murderers Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson were given life sentences with minimum terms of 23 and 24 years respectively for the “savage and depraved” brutality which ended the life of the 27-year-old oil worker.
Judge Lord Pentland told the pair: “You cut him down without mercy… he had done neither of you any harm whatsoever.”
Mr Donaldson’s former girlfriend Tasmin Glass – who was convicted of culpable homicide after luring him to a Kirriemuir playpark on a warm night a year ago next week – was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Branding the aspiring singer “manipulative and devious”, the judge said: “It is clear you instigated the attack on Mr Donaldson.”
He added: “You knew Dickie and Davidson had obtained weapons… Your plan was for your two co-accused to set upon him so you could get him out of your life… Through your duplicity Dickie and Davidson were able to take Mr Donaldson by surprise.
“Without your influence the fatal attack on Mr Donaldson would not have occurred.”
The discovery of Mr Donaldson’s battered and burned body beside the charred shell of his BMW at Kirriemuir’s Loch of Kinnordy Nature Reserve just before 5am on June 7 last year sparked one of the largest police investigations ever seen in Angus, with a two-mile cordon and no-fly zone set up around the wildlife attraction.
Rumours the callous Kirriemuir trio were responsible began to sweep the town almost immediately but they concocted a series of lies about their movements after going swimming in an Angus glens river earlier on the fateful night.
Just a week later they were arrested and charged over the killing.
Dickie, Davidson and Glass were convicted by a High Court jury earlier this month of killing the popular motorcycling fan, who suffered 26 stab wounds in the frenzied attack.
Jurors returned majority murder verdicts on Dickie and Davidson and a unanimous verdict of culpable homicide against Glass after almost 10 hours of deliberation.
The two men had initially assaulted their victim at a car park beside Kirriemuir’s Peter Pan playpark then drove him, seriously injured, in his white BMW to the RSPB reserve two miles from the town.
Mr Donaldson had tried to flee for his life from his barbaric assailants but was viciously beaten at the entrance to the nature reserve then repeatedly hit with a heavy bladed weapon – which has never been recovered – suffering fatal blows which twice severed his spinal cord.
He was dragged back across the car park and placed under the front of his car, which burned with such ferocity after being torched that the thousand degree blaze caused the vehicle to collapse on to the victim’s legs, charring them beyond recognition.
The Edinburgh trial stretched over five weeks and heard evidence from more than 50 witnesses, including horrific details of the appalling catalogue of injuries sustained by Mr Donaldson.
Images of the deceased were so shocking they led one male juror to collapse.
Farmhand Davidson and tyre-fitter Dickie, both now 24, blamed each other for carrying out the murder after launching an initial attack on Mr Donaldson while his sporty BMW was parked beside co-accused Glass’s Vauxhall Corsa at the Peter Pan playpark around 11pm.
Glass, then 19 and pregnant with a baby boy she gave birth to in January, had told him to meet her there to discuss their failing relationship.
The couple had rowed about money that Glass was due to pay Mr Donaldson from a car insurance payout for a vehicle he had bought her.
She was in a sexual relationship with Dickie at the time of the killing and had driven his best friend Davidson to collect a baseball bat on the night of the fatal attack.
The trial had heard of a plan to give Mr Donaldson a “roughing up” for “hassling” Glass.
Dickie and Davidson ‘cold-blooded, violent and unrepentant’
Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson continue to protest their innocence over being personally responsible for the brutal slaying of Steven Donaldson.
In evidence during the trial, the best pals blamed each other for ending the 27-year-old victim’s life.
Davidson admitted landing the first blows on Mr Donaldson at the Peter Pan playpark, but said he was pushed aside by Dickie who embarked on a frenzied, bloody assault.
Davidson then claimed he was ordered to drive the victim’s BMW to Kinnordy, but fled the loch car park as his pal launched the murderous attack.
Dickie told the jury he had taken no part in the horrific events, leaving Kirrie Hill to return to his friend’s house after seeing Davidson “lunge” through the car window.
From the witness box he said he had then spent the night drinking and watching TV until his friend returned around an hour and a half later.
CCTV caught Davidson cycling through Kirriemuir at 2am on June 7 – some three hours before the grim RSPB reserve discovery – returning from a trip to Kinnordy to find parts of a baseball bat that had been broken over the victim.
Mr Donaldson’s blood DNA was found on the handlebars of the mountain bike and the bat shaft alongside the fingerprints of Davidson and proved a crucial forensic element of the circumstantial case.
The Crown case had also included a CCTV clip of two men walking from the area of Kirrie Den, figures the jury were asked to believe were the two murderers walking back from Kinnordy as the BMW was burned to a shell by the fire they set.
The judge told the pair: “You cut him down without mercy.
“It is important to bear in mind that Mr Donaldson did neither of you any harm whatsoever.”
“What I am left with is a clear picture demonstrating that you are both cold-blooded, violent and unrepentant.”
Glass a ‘manipulative and devious’ planner
Tasmin Glass had initially faced a murder charge for her role in the slaying of her child’s father.
Lord Pentland branded Glass a “manipulative and devious” killer for her part in the plan.
“It is clear you instigated the attack on Mr Donaldson,” he told the 20-year-old single mum.
“You strung him along. There was clear evidence of planning and deliberation on your part,” Lord Pentland said.
“You knew that Dickie and Davidson had obtained weapons, you drove them to the area near the playpark.
“In truth your plan was for your two co-accused to set upon him so you could get him out of your life.”
Mr Donaldson, the judge said, had been led to the murderous attack by the “duplicity” of Glass.
“With chilling coolness you then drove home,” Lord Pentland continued.
“Without your influence the further attack would not have taken place.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Patrick said Glass had “lured” Steven Donaldson to a meeting where Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson attacked him before driving him to the Angus nature reserve where they killed him.
Mr Patrick described how the pair used a baseball bat, a kitchen knife taken from Davidson’s house and a third unidentified weapon – probably an axe or a spade – to carry out a “sustained” and “frenzied” attack.
The trial heard Glass drove home from the Peter Pan playpark just after 11pm on June 6 as Dickie and Davidson lunged through the driver’s window of Mr Donaldson’s BMW to launch the first blows in their attack.
Glass had not physically assaulted Mr Donaldson, said Mr Patrick, but she was as culpable as Dickie and Davidson for the killing.