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Drug addict to serve at least 17 years for Thurso murder

By Court Reporter

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THE Thurso drug addict who murdered his friend over a £40 debt was a champion surfer who could have pursued a career in the sport, a court heard today.

Paul Cannop (25) took the life of 32-year-old Paul Fairweather after stabbing him following a confrontation at a house in the town's Holborn Avenue on November 27, 2018.

The murder took place just a day after the two men were seen arguing with each other over a drug debt.

Cannop had been awake for three days at time of the confrontation and was high on a cocktail of crack cocaine, Xanax and Valium. He inflicted a fatal blow on the left side of Mr Fairweather’s chest.

Cannop claimed he acted in self-defence, but jurors at the High Court in Glasgow last month convicted him of murder.

Today, at the High Court in Edinburgh, defence advocate Ronnie Renucci QC told the court that his client’s life had been ruined by his addiction to drugs.

Speaking moments before judge Lord Woolman imposed a life sentence on Cannop, Mr Renucci said: “Paul Cannop once had a very bright future in front of him. He had been a champion surfer and had a potential career in the sport.

“He had been offered a sponsorship deal from a worldwide company. However, he didn’t pursue the opportunity as he turned to drugs.

“He became addicted to drugs and has spent most of his adult life in a situation where he has to deal with that addiction.”

Sentence had been deferred for reports.

Police attending the crime scene in Thurso's Holborn Avenue in November 2018.
Police attending the crime scene in Thurso's Holborn Avenue in November 2018.

At the time of the stabbing, Mr Fairweather was on the phone to his sister. She heard Cannop tell Mr Fairweather he owed him £40 and then heard a scuffle.

On Tuesday, the case again called before Lord Woolman.

Mr Renucci told the court that his client appreciated that he was going to receive a life sentence. But the advocate said that Cannop was determined to do his time and improve himself.

He added: “He made the wrong decision that day and he has made a number of wrong choices throughout his life. He is now determined to change his future.

“He intends to use his time in prison to tackle his problems.”

Passing sentence, Lord Woolman told Cannop that he would serve at least 17 years before becoming eligible for release.

Lord Woolman added: “Mr Fairweather was only 32. The loss of his life has had devastating consequences for his family.

“Their grief is palpable.

“You have previously been convicted of violent offences and spent time in prison. All attempts to steer you along a different course have failed.

“The social worker reports that you have a limited insight and empathy and that you present a high risk of serious harm.

“Accordingly, rehabilitation and reintegration may prove difficult, although I note what Mr Renucci has said about your resolve to change your life.

“Balancing all these factors and exercising what clemency I can, I direct that you serve a minimum period of 17 years’ imprisonment.”

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