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Scotsman who bragged about his underworld connections found guilty of Exeter stabbing

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: May 15, 2014

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A Scotsman who bragged about his underworld connections is facing jail for a savage knife attack on a man who he wrongly accused of stealing his mobile phone.

William McGeough is to be assessed for dangerousness after a Judge was told he has a long criminal record including at least two knife attacks in his home city of Glasgow.

The 42-year-old attacked fellow countryman Stephen Donnelly who had acted as Good Samaritan by finding him somewhere to stay for the night after he missed a coach home from Exeter to Glasgow.

He had been in Devon visiting his mother in Tiverton but missed the evening bus home after meeting Mr Donnelly at the bus station where they started drinking and reminiscing about Glasgow.

The victim had become alarmed by McGeough’s boasting about his links with notorious criminals as the two men spent the night drinking together.

Mr Donnelly, aged 38, borrowed McGeough’s Blackberry mobile phone to call for a taxi to get back to the hostel where he was living in Exeter.

He could not get through and when he went into the street to try to get a better signal McGeough accused him of ‘mugging him off’ and stealing the phone. He chased him outside and attacked him from behind with a lock knife he kept in his pocket.

The victim suffered a punctured lung, a cut on his kidney, and a stab wound that went right through his cheek as McGeough stabbed him ten times.

He also punched his so violently he broke Mr Donnelly’s jaw, cheek, eye socket and skull. When police tracked him to the flat where he was staying he told them “the bastard tried to mug me”.

Mr Donnelly was found semi conscious in a pool of blood in Newport Road, Exeter in January after a neighbour heard him calling for help. A police dog followed a scent back to the flat where McGeough was hiding.

McGeough, aged 42, of Grafton Place, Glasgow, was cleared of attempted murder but found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.

Judge Mr Justice Burnett adjourned sentence until next month and ordered the probation service to prepare a report assessing McGeough’s level of dangerousness.

He also asked the prosecution to obtain more details of the previous convictions in Glasgow, which include other offences involving knives.

The Judge said:”Given the nature of this offence, the circumstances in which it occurred and the fact that there is a history of violence with the use of weapons, I am going to be concerned with the issue of dangerousness.

“In particular I will need to look at whether an extended sentence is appropriate. It would be helpful to be clearer about the circumstances of his earlier offences.”

Miss Fiona Elder, defending, said:”My client knows he will receive a substantial custodial sentence and is well aware that the question of dangerousness may arise.”

During the three day case the jury heard from Mr Donnelly how he went to the bus station to meet a friend but started talking to McGeough because they both recognised each others’ Glasgow accents.

When McGeough missed his bus he offered to find him somewhere to spend the night and they went back to a friend’s house in Newport Road where they drank cider and vodka.

Mr Donnelly told the jury he became uneasy about his guest. He said:”He kept asking me if I knew people in Glasgow. He came from the East side while I was from Pollock in the South.

“I recognised the names he was talking about. Some of them were well known criminals. I had heard of them but did not know them at all.

“I was becoming concerned about what he was talking about. That sort of thing is the reason I left Glasgow.”

He told how he was grabbed from behind, stabbed and punched after he left the flat with McGeough’s phone to call a taxi and had eventually managed to stagger away.

McGeough claimed Mr Donnelly had stolen his phone and his knife, which he pulled on him when he followed him out of the house. He said he was acting in self defence and picked up and used the knife because he thought to was going to be killed.

He will be sentenced next month.

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