At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Matthews imposed life sentences on Stephen Crawford and Darren McDevitt after they were found guilty of the murder of Michael Herbison on 29 August 2011. The punishment part was fixed at 18 years.

On sentencing Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

“As you know you have been found guilty of the murder of Michael Herbison. While you are both maintaining your denials I have to proceed on the basis of the jury’s verdict.

I have listened to what has been said on your behalf and considered the terms of the reports which have been prepared as well as a statement from Mr Herbison’s brother reflecting the impact all of this has had on him.

This was a circumstantial case, there being no eye witness who claimed to see what happened.

The result is that only those who were present on the river bank at the material time know precisely what triggered the events of that night and in what order they occurred.

However, the evidence which was available made it plain that Mr Herbison was punched, kicked, shot with an air gun, stabbed repeatedly, stripped of his garments and cast unceremoniously into the River Leven, possibly if not probably while he was still alive, albeit on the point of death from the fatal stab wound, although the evidence did not go so far as to indicate that you knew he was still alive at that point, if indeed that was the case. That, however, was a chance which was taken.

This was a callous and brutal way to treat a fellow human being. It falls to be contrasted with the way in which Mr Herbison’s brother helped him throughout the difficulties which beset him.

I have to sentence you Stephen Ian Crawford to imprisonment and you Darren McDevitt to detention, both of you for life. In your case Stephen Ian Crawford the sentence will run from 15 September 2011 and it will be from 29 September 2011 in the case of you Darren McDevitt.

I also have to fix in each case a period which must pass before you can apply for parole. When and if on the passing of that period you will ever be released will be a matter for others to decide. Whatever the length of that period I recognise that it can never compensate for the anguish of Mr Herbison’s family, particularly his brother, and his friends.

I cannot say what part each of you played that night and there is nothing to choose between you in that regard. You have both offended in the past. You Darren McDevitt have a more serious record for violence than your co-accused but you Stephen Ian Crawford have a longer and more persistent record. Again I have decided not to discriminate between you on that basis.

In the circumstances I have decided that in each case the punishment part will be one of 18 years”.