A prisoner serving a 28-year sentence for a brutal 1980s Edinburgh murder has been found guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill three prison officers at Noranside open prison in Angus.
Gary McMenamin (49), a prisoner at Edinburgh, was sentenced to two years in custody following the disturbance which took place at the prison near Forfar on December 17 last year in which he vowed to ensure at least one staff member would “not be here for Christmas.”
The jury of seven men and eight women found McMenamin guilty by majority of four charges following the two-day trial at Forfar Sheriff Court, including one which alleged he injured prison officer John Gordon by struggling with him and striking him on the body with a pair of scissors. Mr Gordon had to take almost a week’s sickness leave following the incident and still requires physiotherapy for ligament damage sustained as a result.
McMenamin who was originally convicted almost 30 years ago, along with another man, of killing a woman on a rural road in 1982 by hitting her with a stone and car jack before assaulting her with a screwdriver took to the witness box on Tuesday. He said the evidence of the prison officers was “nonsense” and constituted a “conspiracy” because they wanted to save Noranside from potential closure.
He was also found guilty of threatening to kill visiting doctor Peter Kay earlier the same day, after he had become unhappy about the treatment he received for a stomach complaint.
Following the incident residential manager David Gourlay visited McMenamin in his cell to advise him that he was being moved to a more secure, closed establishment. McMenamin then lunged at Mr Gourlay, struggled violently with him and spat on his head before turning on Mr Gordon.
A third officer, Frances Livingstone, summoned help and another staff member, Gerry Collins, came to relieve Mr Gordon to allow him to be treated. The accused struggled with Mr Collins and spat on his face.
Mr Collins told the court that McMenamin exhibited “phenomenal” strength throughout the altercation. He added, “He was agitated and he said, ‘You will relax and then I will do one of you’.”
In earlier evidence the court had heard that McMenamin had promised the officers that he would kill them so he would “never” get out of jail and had said that if he was to go “back down the road” to prison in Edinburgh it would be “for something this time.”
McMenamin’s solicitor Andrew Lyall claimed Mr Gordon was in fact injured accidentally by a colleague.
Sentencing, Sheriff Kevin Veal told McMenamin who was just a week away from a parole hearing at the time of the offences and whose release was understood to be unopposed by Scottish ministers that the nature of his crimes was highly serious.
“People who are involved in the prison system are entitled to protection,” the sheriff said. “These sort of threats have got to be a matter of some gravity.”