A FORMER soldier who killed a young dad by stabbing him through the heart following a row over a £40 drug debt, was today jailed for eight years.

Liam Donnelly, 27, from Plains in Airdrie, was originally charged with murdering 26-year-old Philip McMillan – known as Phil – at Sunnyside Crescent, Holytown, Lanarkshire, on February 22 last year.

At the High Court in Glasgow dad-of-one Donnelly's plea of guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide under provocation was accepted by the Crown.

The court heard that Mr McMillan was demanding the £40 he was owed and had earlier hours earlier vandalised Donnelly's partner's home.

Donnelly and two friends went to Mr McMillan's home to remonstrate with him and they were confronted by McMillan who armed himself with a knife and a wooden pole.

Glasgow Times: The High Court in GlasgowThe High Court in Glasgow

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Jailing Donnelly, Judge Lady Rae told Donnelly: “Instead of reporting the matter to the police you decided to take the law into your own hands.

“Mr McMillan's behaviour was unacceptable, but he did not deserve to die.

“I am prepared to deal with this more leniently than I normally would.”

Defence QC Brian McConnachie, representing Donnelly, said: “He accepts full responsibility for his actions and is extremely remorseful.

“Mr Donnelly aimed for Mr McMillan's arm, but the knife went though his heart. As a result of his experiences in the Army he is thought to be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.”

The court was told that on February 15, last year Mr McMillan supplied diazepam to Donnelly, his girlfriend Kayleigh McCallum and another friend on credit.

He sent threatening texts to Ms McCallum demanding £40 and vandalised her home.

He then called her and when Donnelly grabbed the phone and spoke to McMillan a heated argument broke out.

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Donnelly called a taxi around 5.30am and along with friends Ryan Downie and Alan Dunion went to Mr McMillan's home at Sunnyside Crescent.

Donnelly was armed with a knife and Mr McMillan also had a knife and a piece of fencing post.

Mr McMillan began swinging it at Donnelly, Downie and Dunion, and then slashed Dunion on the left side of his face with a knife.

At this point Donnelly stabbed Mr McMillan in the heart causing massive internal bleeding. He died later in Wishaw General Hospital.

The knife which inflicted the fatal injury was never found.

Donnelly suffered fractures to his fingers, which were consistent with being struck by a wooden pole.

Dunion had a six-inch slash to his face and needed 15 sutures.

Downie, 24, and Dunion, 24, both from Coatbridge, were also originally charged with the murder of Mr McMillan, but their pleas of not guilty were accepted by the Crown.

Dunion admitted having a knife in his possession at Sunnyside Crescent and Monklands Hospital and Downie, a first offender, admitted having the knife in his possession in the hospital after Dunion handed it to him there.

Lady Rae admonished Downie and jailed Dunion for 12 months.