TWO callous thugs have been convicted of murdering their friend, stripping him naked and dumping his body in the River Leven. At the High Court in Glasgow Stephen Crawford, 24, and Darren McDevitt, 20 were today (Thursday) found guilty of killing 35-year-old Michael Herbison on the banks of the River Leven at Renton on August 29, last year.

The pair viciously stabbed Mr Herbison in the chest severing two main blood vessels and he bled to death. He was also shot on the right buttock with an air rifle.

And as Mr Herbison lay dying the pair stripped off his clothing and threw his body into the river.

His body was recovered from the river the next day by police divers.

All three men had been at a party at a house in Tontine Park earlier that night and during the trial no reason was given for the murderous attack on Mr Herbison.

After 9pm Mr Herbison left to buy drink and cigarettes and told a friend he was then going to meet Crawford at the Polaroid bridge on the river towpath.

Crawford and McDevitt were seen leaving the party after Mr Herbison. They had an air rifle with them and said they were going to shoot rats down by the river.

The court heard that even while police were treating the case as that of a missing person both men made up false alibis for the night of the murder.

After the killing McDevitt was heard to say: "We've done him." and forensic analysis of Crawford's shoes revealed spots of Mr Herbison's blood on them.

The jury returned a majority guilty verdict for both men. Crawford will be jailed for life and McDevitt will be detained without limit of time.

Judge Lord Matthews deferred sentence on both until next month for background reports. He will then determine how long each must serve before being eligible to apply for parole.

Prosecutor Andrew Miller told the court that Crawford had a number of convictions for public disorder and one for violence, but has never served a custodial sentence.

The court also heard that McDevitt was caged for two years at the High Court in Edinburgh for an assault to severe injury. He also has a conviction for wilful fireraising and theft.