Life for Boddam’s brutal Halloween murderer

Ismail Burnett admits murder of Boddam father of two James Bruce
Ismail Burnett admits murder of Boddam father of two James Bruce

A MAN who murdered a Boddam father-of-two at Halloween has been sentenced to life in prison.

Ismail Burnett, 39, must serve at least 16 years for the murder of father-of-two James Bruce in Boddam on October 31, 2010.

Mr Bruce (40) was stabbed to death in Boddam’s Claymore Crescent after a drug deal went wrong.

Mr Bruce’s family said outside the court after Burnett was found guilty last month, that they hoped that Burnett would “rot in hell” for killing the “gentle giant” with a “heart of gold”.

Burnett (39) changed his plea on the second day of trial at the High Court in Aberdeen in April and admitted killing James Bruce in the village on October 31, 2010.

Burnett’s guilty plea came after an emotional court appearance by Mr Bruce’s son Shaun on the opening day of the trial.

The 20-year-old wept as he told the jury he heard his father call out in pain before finding him soaked in blood in the street.

The court heard how he battled to save his father’s life by trying to staunch the stab wounds.

Mr Bruce was so badly injured that he died in Peterhead Community Hospital later that day. His last words to his mother Maureen Keeble were: “Oh Ma.”

Mr Bruce had been stabbed five times, with the blade penetrating his liver and heart, the court was told.

Defence advocate Shelagh McCall QC told the court Burnett accepted that he used excessive force when he used the knife. She said her client had a lengthy record of previous convictions, but only one for assault.

Detective Superintendent Malcolm Stewart, who led the inquiry, welcomed the murder conviction.

He said: “Burnett carried out a violent and sustained attack on James Bruce at a time when numerous members of the public, including young children who were out trick or treating, were in the area.

“He has shown little remorse for his actions on that night, which ultimately robbed two people of their father.

“This conviction will not fill the void that has been left in their lives, but it may allow them to move forward after what has been a particularly traumatic experience.

“Our thoughts are with James Bruce’s family at this difficult time.”

Burnett was also charged with possession of heroin and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

The murder triggered one of the biggest operations in the recent history of Grampian Police.