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Killer struck woman eight times on head with hammer

Aaron Donald murdered 36-year-old Claire Turnbull in a 'brutal' attack last year.

Claire Turnbull was murdered by Aaron Donald.
Claire Turnbull was murdered by Aaron Donald. Police Scotland/Vic Rodrick

A murderer who bludgeoned a "deeply loving" mother to death with a claw hammer has been jailed for life.

Aaron Donald, who hit Claire Turnbull eight times over the head and left the 36-year-old lying in a pool of blood, was ordered to serve at least 18 years behind bars.

The 28-year-old claimed he snapped after Ms Turnbull made sexual advances to his girlfriend, 30-year-old Laura McMurdo. He later told police she had "disrespected him."

The attack, which lasted 90 seconds and left Ms Turnbull with multiple skull fractures, took place at Donald's flat on Rintoul Avenue, Blairhall, near Dunfermline, on October 5, last year.

Sentencing him at the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lady Scott told Donald: "Claire Donald was a deeply loving woman known to be friendly and caring.

"You brutally took her life. You have left her young children her partner and her family without her.

"You had never met her before that day and launched a savage and frenzied attack when she was in the flat and struck her repeatedly with a hammer at least eight times.

"The reason for this attack is not clear. You said she was disrespecting you. You present a very real risk of serious harm to the public. However, it is up to the parole board when you are released."

The court heard that Donald has 50 previous convictions, including seven for violence.

Defence QC Bert Kerrigan said: "Mr Donald has shown significant remorse. He has a history of psychiatric problems."

During the trial Paul Smith, 36, said he got a phone call from Donald shortly after he had killed Ms Turnbull and added: "He was telling me he'd done something real bad, something a bit crazy.

"He told me he'd killed a woman. I said 'Are you sure she's dead?'.

"He said 'Oh aye. She's dead. I hit her a number of times with a hammer and there's brain matter everywhere'."

Mr Smith also said in a statement to police: "Aaron told me that the girl had tried it on with Laura and tried touching her and then he said 'I lost it and battered her to death'."

During his trial, Donald admitted killing Ms Turnbull, but claimed he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.

The jury rejected this and convicted him of murder.

In evidence Donald said: "It shouldn't have happened. I'm no monster like folk make out. I can't take back what I done."

He also claimed he could not get the death out of his mind and said: "I honestly lost the plot."

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