Man jailed for 17 years for brutal murder of partner

A 53-year-old man has been jailed for a minimum of 17 years for murdering his partner at their home in North Lanarkshire.

John-Paul McLaughlan admitted killing Stacey Warnock, 51, at the property on Barra Drive, Airdie, the week before Christmas 2022.

The construction worker covered his ears and sobbed as the prosecutor described the "brutal" knife attack.

Ms Warnock, who was born in the USA and moved to Scotland as a child, had at least 58 injuries to her head, neck and body.

Her body lay in a bath for days before McLaughlan's colleagues visited the house.

The High Court in Glasgow heard the couple had started dating in 1998, then split and rekindled the relationship in 2010, moving in together four years later.

Prosecutor Lorraine Glancy KC described the details of the killing to the court.

Ms Warnock and McLaughlan were last seen together on the night of 16 December 2022 when a supermarket delivery driver made a drop off.

The court heard a neighbour was aware of them being home that night.

She heard noises the next morning including "a thump" but it was quiet for the rest of the weekend and she thought the couple must have been out.

Neighbours who went to his home over that weekend described McLaughlan as appearing "unkempt and gaunt".

During this time, McLaughlan sent a workmate a series of "bizarre " messages.

In one he claimed: "Stacey is gone. She cannot handle it. She cannot move."

Miss Glancy said they were "at times rambling", but that he "indicated he had killed Stacey and had tried to kill himself".

Two of his workmates turned up at the house on 20 December.

The court heard McLaughlan said to them: "I need a lawyer. She is dead. She has been dead since Saturday.

"Do not phone the police until I get my defence sorted."

Ms Warnock's body was discovered slumped in the bath.

McLaughlan told police he had killed his partner, but claimed it was in self defence.

He said: "I did it. I used the same knife to hurt myself. It is in my bedside cabinet.

"She is still dead and I done it."

The court was told he added: "Defence, whatever you want to call it, it is not acceptable.

"I killed my soulmate. I have not hidden any evidence. The clothes it happened in are lying in the bedroom. I have nothing to hide."

John Scullion KC, defending, said McLaughlan had "no recollection of the fatal attack".

He added the killer claimed to have only a "fractured memory of an argument" in which Miss Warnock allegedly threw an iron at him.

Lord Doherty said the minimum sentence would have been 19 years, but for the guilty plea.

The judge told McLaughlan: "There is no escaping this was a brutal, merciless and sustained attack on your partner."

McLaughlan - who had a previous conviction for violence - was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum 17 years behind bars.

Det Insp Campbell Jackson said: “This was a horrendous and brutal attack involving a high level of violence.

“While this conviction cannot change what has happened I hope it will give Stacey’s family and friends some closure."