Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Teenage girl given life for cigarette row murder

Nicolle Earley
Nicolle Earley was just 16 when she killed the Fife grandmother

A teenage girl has been jailed for life for killing a Fife grandmother during a row over £5 and a borrowed cigarette.

Nicolle Earley - one of Scotland's youngest female murderers - was 16 when she killed Ann Gray in her home in Crosshill on 14 November 2008.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Earley, now 18, was ordered to serve a minimum of 14 years in prison.

The victim's family said the sentence was "a joke" and said Earley should have had a minimum term of 30 years.

Mrs Gray, 63, died as a result of a head injury after she was knocked to the ground and repeatedly stamped on.

Earley pleaded guilty to the murder last month.

Judge Lady Dorrian said she had reduced the minimum sentence from 15 years because of Earley's guilty plea.

The judge said: "There is only one sentence I can pass following a plea of guilty to murder and that is detention for life."

Outside court, Mrs Gray's daughters said they hoped Earley would never be freed from custody.

Anne-Marie McLeod, 44, said she was "very angry" following the hearing.

Ann Gray
Ann Gray was well known in the Crosshill community

"Fourteen years, it's nothing. It's shocking, it really is," she said.

Ms McLeod said she would have liked to have seen a minimum sentence of 20 to 30 years for her mother's murder.

She added: "Obviously that wasn't going to happen. I hope she never gets out. She doesn't deserve it.

"There's no justice today."

Andrena Gray, 37, added: "It's a joke. My mum's life was worth more than that. The justice system's a joke."

Unemployed Earley was living with her grandmother, who stayed in the same street as Mrs Gray and was friends with the victim, at the time of the murder.

Advocate depute Morag Jack said that on the day before the fatal attack Mrs Gray had apparently borrowed a cigarette from Earley on the understanding she would get two in return the next day.

Ms Jack said Earley left her grandmother's home to go to see Mrs Gray "to retrieve the cigarettes she was owed".

Mrs Gray's daughters said they hoped Earley would never be freed from custody

"When the deceased came to the door there was an argument about the cigarette and money the accused was due for going shopping," said the advocate depute.

Mrs Gray was pushed to the ground and suffered a fractured jaw and broken cheek bone along with a fractured bone in her upper neck.

Defence solicitor advocate Gordon Martin said Earley, who has a previous conviction for assault, came from "a particularly troubled background" and was involved in trouble at school.

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