Murderer has prison term cut

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A MAN sentenced to 19 years in jail for the murder of his “best mate” in Liddesdale Road last year could be free little more than 14 years from now after a successful appeal.

Dean Rippon, who killed Christopher Swailes at the latter’s home in November last year, is said to admit he remains deserving of a lengthy jail sentence following the ruling at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Rippon, formerly of Stonefield Place, used a filleting knife and a whisky bottle in the attack from which his victim died by suffering a stab wound to the chest and injuries to the head.

The 20-year-old, currently a prisoner at Polmont young offenders institution, near Falkirk, launched an appeal against the initial sentence by citing a previous ruling that knife murderers should serve a minimum sentence of 16 years and arguing that Judge Lady Smith had not taken into account certain factors – such as Rippon’s lack of a record for violence – when increasing that term to 21 years.

It was also argued that the subsequent reduction in sentence for Rippon pleading guilty early was not long enough. Lady Smith applied a reduction of one eleventh (nine per cent) of the term.

However, it was this week stressed that Rippon could not have pled guilty earlier due to psychological and psychiatric problems. The reduction in term was increased to one sixth (16 per cent).

Rory Bannerman, solicitor of the accused, told the Hawick News after the successful appeal: “The accused was pleased with the outcome but still appreciated that the crime was completely unjustifed and that he deserved a long prison sentence.”

Rippon, who is set to be transferred to Shotts high security prison in Lanarkshire during the coming weeks, originally told detectives he could not have committed the murder as he had been in police cutained significant bloodstains.

Rippon told police in November last year: “I’m not getting done for murder. It couldn’t be me because I was in custody at Hawick last night.

“I wouldn’t hit him [Mr Swailes] over the head – he’s not got a fight in him, he’s my best mate.”

He later told a witness: “I’ve hurt someone.”

Rippon made his way to a Morrisons supermarket but was asked to stop by a security officer before running off. Police detained him on suspicion of shoplifting, but on freeing him later noticed that he had “significant blood staining on his clothing and footwear”.

Officers had already found Mr Swailes in his Liddesdale Road flat with his dog standing over him.