A man who beat a stroke sufferer to death after befriending him during Scotland’s first Covid lockdown was today caged for 10 years and told he would be supervised for three years following his release from prison.
William Collins admitted leaving William McCallum with 66 injuries – including a fresh brain hemorrhage, broken ribs and multiple bruises – after attacking him in his home.
The 40-year-old, from Falkirk, had befriended McCallum at the pharmacy which Collins himself attended three times a week to collect medication for his heroin addiction.
In the weeks leading up to 66-year old Mr McCallum’s death in 2020, Collins had become a regular visitor to Mr McCallum’s flat in Redding, Falkirk, where the “frail and vulnerable” father-of-six lived.
Ian Duguid, QC, defending, said the offense took place in June 2020, around three months into the first Covid lockdown.
He described Collins and Mr McCallum as “isolated figures” who both lived alone but, in the circumstances of the pandemic, met on a regular basis.
He said both the accused and his victim had taken street Valium on the day of the killing as a result of which Collins had “very little knowledge or recollection” of events.
He told the High Court at Livingston: “Mr McCallum sustained an injury to the back of his head which appears to have been a trauma with a hard surface.
“A care worker who was present witnessed Mr McCallum being dragged from a bed onto the hard-surfaced floor by the accused.
“If this had been two sober gentlemen in normal circumstances seeking prompt medical attention then Mr McCallum’s demise may not have come to pass.
“Mr Collins bears responsibility for the injuries from which Mr McCallum but his lack of accurate recollection considerably frustrates him and causes him a great deal of remorse and regret.”
Mr Duguid said Colins was tearful when discussing what had happened between him and Mr McCallum.
He added: “There’s no way he anticipated that Mr McCallum was going to lose his life but clearly a disagreement had arisen between the two of them.
“It may have related to the fact that Mr Collins was unable to find his belongings – his wallet, bank card and drugs he was carrying at the time and that’s how the two men came into dispute.”
The court heard earlier that Mr McCallum, who was diabetic and suffered from COPD, was “scared” of Collins, who would “snap, shout and bawl” at him.
Prosecutor John Keenan said Mr McCallum’s carer who witnessed Collins pulling the deceased off the bed and trying to drag him out of the room had left “hurriedly” and reported what had happened to her office.
Over “a number of hours,” neighbors then heard sounds of arguing, Collins demanding money, and “loud banging and dull thuds” from the flat.
They heard Mr McCallum saying: “Look what you’ve done to me. What are you trying to do to me?” and saw Collins leaving with blood on his joggers.
Collins returned about 9.30pm and broke a window of Mr McCallum’s flat to get back in. At this point, police were called. Collins led officers to the body of the accused who was in bed in the fetal position, unresponsive, and not breathing.”
A post mortem put death down to head and chest injuries, combined with methadone and etizolam [street Valium] toxicity.
The examination identified “66 individual and groups of blunt-force injury – predominantly fresh, recent bruises around the face, head and trunk”.
A subdural haemorrhage – bleeding to the victim’s brain – was thought to have been “of central significance”.
Passing sentence, Lord Weir told Collins: “The charge to which you pleaded guilty was originally a charge of murder.
“Following the balloting of the jury on this and other charges the Crown accepted a very recently tendered plea of guilty to a charge of culpable homicide.
“You should be under no doubt that the charge is still a very serious one indeed, involving as it did the death of Mr McCallum.
“You seized hold of him, pulled and dragged him by the body and repeatedly inflicted blunt force trauma to his head and body.
“There was no justification for subjecting Mr McCallum to an assault of the character related to the court, never mind the level of violence which can be inferred from it.”
He added: “It’s clear you must have visited considerable violence against him, whatever your memory may now be.
“The medical evidence details that the pattern and distribution of the injuries were consistent with repeated blunt force trauma through punches, kicks, falls against hard surfaces or a combination of all three.”
The judge said an “eloquent” victim impact statement submitted by the victim’s daughters – three of whom were in court to see Collins being sentenced – spoke of the pain the family continued to suffer as a result of his loss.
Lord Weir said it was clear from the assessment in the criminal justice social work report that Collins presented a risk of serious harm to the public and would require a high level of supervision to facilitate his rehabilitation and eventual reintegration into society.
He imposed an extended sentence of 13 years, comprising an immediate period of custody for 10 years – backdated to June 29, 2020, when Collins was first remanded in prison – followed by three years on license after his eventual release.
He warned Collins that he could be recalled to custody if he failed to comply with the conditions of his release or committed further offenses while on licence.
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here.