A man convicted of killing procuator fiscal depute Marshall Stormonth in 1994 has been found guilty of fatally stabbing a pensioner within a year of being released.
Steven Ryan, now aged 43, was released from a life sentence early last year for the murder of Mr Stormonth – a crime that, at the time, stunned Scotland. On Tuesday, in Glasgow’s High Court, Ryan was convicted of another murder – that of 65 year-old Gordon Murphy in a completely unprovoked attack last December.
In 1994, when aged 21, Ryan met Stormonth in a bar and pretended to be gay in order to win his trust, go home with him and then rob him. Ryan and his brother Dean strangled the lawyer with a tie and belt before stealing his money and keys. They then set Stormonth’s Kelvinside home on fire with his body inside.
The death of Mr Stormonth was one of a number of brutal crimes perpetrated against gay men in Scotland during the 1990s.
Ryan’s latest victim was killed by a scissor blade in what was described as a “frenzied” attack on the pensioner. As Murphy lay dying on the street, Ryan walked away – allegedly to buy drugs he believed enhanced his “sexual prowess”.
He initially told the court that he had actually come to Murphy’s aid after witnessing an assault by unknown assailants.
However, his claim that he was not the killer and only became involved to help after seeing two mystery attackers run off was not supported by other key witnesses. The court also heard from Ryan’s girlfriend Cherie Marshall that on 20th December last year they were on their way to visiting a Govanhill bar when she suddenly became aware of Ryan being involved in “a scuffle” in Ardbeg Street. “The guy was not putting up much of a fight. Steven was attacking him”, she said. “I did not know at the time, but Steven had obviously stabbed him – I did see blood.”
Ms Marshall phoned 999 before the pair disappeared from the scene to buy crack cocaine. Ryan later abandoned the murder weapon in the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Murphy died shortly after the attack and post-mortem examination confirmed death was caused by the blade striking his heart. Murphy, a former security guard, was described in court as being “a quiet, unassuming man, who kept himself to himself and enjoyed a pint with close friends.” He had also recently survived throat cancer and had hoped to spend Christmas with an Irish woman with whom he had recently begun a new relationship.
Given the severity of the crime and Ryan’s previous conviction, Judge John Morris QC handed him a second life sentence, of which at least 25 years must be served. “It may be that you will never be released”, he told Ryan.