A Dundee killer has been cleared by a jury of attacking two prison officers while he was on remand waiting to go on trial for murder.
Arran Fender, 33, was cleared after the jury heard one of the prison officers being described as “extremely aggressive” and “belligerent”.
Perth Sheriff Court was shown CCTV footage of a brawl involving Fender and the prison officers in Perth Prison on July 5 2017.
At the time, Fender was being held on remand on a murder charge.
He is now serving a 12-year sentence for killing Gary McMillan, 44, on a Dundee street on May 16 2017.
Fender, from Dundee, had denied severely injuring prison officers Ross Callaghan and Craig Stewart in the Perth jail in a row over him trying to smoke.
His solicitor, Andy Lyall, said: “They felt he was a cheeky prisoner who had not only gone for a smoke, but was also giving them some lip.
“It is up to you to decide what you thought of the prison officer, but I thought he was an extremely aggressive person.
“He was as belligerent as any witness I have ever seen in court. He demonstrated he was not the sort of person to take anything from anybody.”
The jury agreed with Fender’s version of events and cleared him of both assault charges, finding him unanimously not guilty after 30 minutes’ deliberation.
Fender was found guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh last year of killing former friend Mr McMillan by stabbing him four times during a knife fight.
Fender said he stabbed Mr McMillan because his victim initially tried to stab him. Jurors accepted Fender’s claims that he acted in self-defence.
Judge Lady Carmichael told Fender: “Gary McMillan’s loss is, and will continue to be, felt deeply by his family.
“No sentence I can pronounce can repair the harm that they have suffered as a result of his death.”
The jury heard Fender and Mr McMillan had once been the “best of friends” but had fallen out in the months before the attack. In the days leading up to the confrontation, the two men sent a series of angry WhatsApp messages to each other. In one message Fender threatened to “kill” Mr McMillan and “put him in a box”.
Fender said during his trial: “I was devastated – there was no need for any of this. Everybody involved is suffering.”
Following his conviction, the court was told that Fender has three previous convictions for possessing a knife and three previous convictions for assault.