24/11/2011 10:37 GMT

Robert Gracie Pleads Guilty To Stabbing Friend In Frenzied Knife Attack At Party

A man who killed his close friend in a frenzied knife attack during a row at a party has pleaded guilty to murder.

Robert Gracie was said to have been "like a maniac" when he set upon father-of-one James Tierney in the garden with a nine-inch blade.

Mr Tierney, a 27-year-old welder, suffered massive blood loss after being stabbed eight times in front of onlookers by the friend he had known since childhood.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the fatal row ensued after Gracie became upset, believing people at the party he threw at his West Lothian home had shown a "lack of respect" for the property.

Gracie claimed Mr Tierney, of Harrysmuir Terrace, Pumpherston, had tried to attack him first with a brick - a suggestion prosecutors do not accept. The 23-year-old now faces a life sentence after admitting to the murder at Letham Place, Pumpherston, on April 2 this year.

The court heard how he decided to have a party on Friday April 1 at the home he shared with his mother, after she had gone to work. As the evening progressed, an argument involving Mr Tierney and two other partygoers broke out upstairs and resulted in Mr Tierney being hit in the face. During the commotion, a picture frame was knocked off a wall.

Advocate Depute Pino Di Emidio told the court that Gracie seemed to become upset at what he saw as a lack of respect for his mother's home and ordered everyone to leave, "swearing as he did so". Mr Tierney and Gracie were then seen to exchange words before a fight broke out.

The court heard how one onlooker then saw Gracie pick up a large knife from the kitchen and walk towards Mr Tierney. Mr Di Emidio said: "The accused struck the now deceased repeatedly to the chest area with the knife. The now deceased fell backwards to the ground and fell on his side. The now deceased was curled up trying to cover his head with his arms. The accused continued to strike him as he lay on the ground."

One person at the party described Gracie as "being like a maniac", saying he looked angry and was screaming, gritting his teeth and foaming at the mouth. Referring to his victim, Gracie then said: "Oh Jimmy, what have I done?" He then rang 999 and said that he had killed his friend.

Gracie was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on January 16 at the High Court in Aberdeen. Judge Lord Uist, who will have to decide on the minimum jail term told him: "The penalty for murder is fixed by law and is that of life imprisonment."