MURDER victim Craig Hepburn’s family have paid tribute to their son.
They talked about his ‘infectious laugh’.
And they admitted their lives had changed forever since his death.
Craig – a talented bagpipe player – was stabbed to death while on a night out in Marsden visiting relatives.
Alex and Carole Hepburn told how what had been planned as a happy weekend visiting family in Marsden turned to tragedy within hours of their arrival from Linwood, Paisley, Scotland, last summer.
Mr Hepburn said: “We were just a normal family visiting relatives in Marsden.
“It was Craig’s only free weekend before the pipe band season started so we decided to visit his uncle Scott in Marsden.
“We could have gone anywhere. Our lives have now changed forever”.
Craig, 19, had been playing his bagpipes in a village pub in Marsden and locals had welcomed him and pal Conor Paton and had ‘friendly banter’ with them.
Mrs Hepburn said: “Craig was loud but in a funny way.
“He was always talking and laughing. His laugh was infectious. I can still hear his laugh in my head.
“Our lives are quieter without him.
“He was training to be a nurse and was so caring, always looking out for people.
“He was a smiling, happy young man.”
Craig’s father told how Craig learned to play the bagpipes at school through an arts grant from Renfrewshire Council and was loaned a set of bagpipes after a year.
He said: “He was into everything. He would play football with his friends and by the time he started Linwood High School it was his love of music which took up most of his time.”
Craig attended twice weekly bagpipe rehearsals and joined Milingavi Pipe Band having spent four years with junior Paisley Pipe Band.
Mr Hepburn said Craig also enjoyed skiing and snow boarding at Glasgow Ski Centre and supported Glasgow Rangers FC, holding a season ticket for a number of years.
Craig was wearing a Manchester City shirt at the time of the attack but his mum told how it was bought for him as a present.
Mrs Hepburn said: “He had loads of football tops. He used to pick them for the colours. He bought one top because it was pink.”
In the days after Craig’s death his bandmates paid tribute with a memory walk and lantern parade led by hundreds of friends.
Mrs Hepburn said: “He had so many friends, many he had grown up with.
“Linwood is even smaller than Marsden and the kind of place where everyone knows everyone.
“It is nice that young people want to do something but it hurts so much.
“In Marsden people who had only met him for an hour or so when he was playing his bagpipes have paid tribute and said what a joy it was to hear him play.”
She said she ‘feels pain every day when she thinks of Craig being taken in such a cruel way.’
Craig’s dad, who has been unable to work since Craig’s death, said he ‘will never be able to see his son fulfil his dreams.’ Craig’s younger brother Andrew, 17, said he misses Craig and their ‘house is much quieter without him.’
He said he was looking forward to doing things together as they became young adults together and now he cannot.
Craig’s best friend Conor Paton told how he feels guilty he survived the attack which killed his friend.
Conor, 19, suffered three stab wounds in the attack and ran covered in blood back to Craig’s uncle Scott’s house in Mount Road on July 6 last year.
He raised the alarm and Craig’s dad and uncle ran to help Craig who was lying in the road covered in blood.
The court heard yesterday in a victim impact statement how Conor, who saw his attackers jailed yesterday, suffered nightmares and feels guilty he survived and Craig didn’t.
He underwent trauma counselling before giving evidence and stayed through the five-week trial alongside Craig’s family and younger brother Andrew.
He told the Examiner after the verdict: “I just wish it had never happened.
“I miss Craig, we all do”.
THE parents of stab victim Craig Hepburn have said their son believed in bringing back the death penalty.
Dignified Carole and Alex Hepburn, of Linwood, Paisley, sat through every day of the five-week trial with Craig’s younger brother Andrew and other family members at Leeds Crown Court.
They had to listen to harrowing evidence about their son’s last hours and how the two killers tried to blame each other for the shocking crime.
Craig, 19, was stabbed 11 times in an unprovoked attack in Marsden on July 6 last year. He died from his injuries the afternoon after the attack in hospital.
Only hours earlier he had been entertaining drinkers in a Marsden pub by playing his bagpipes.
Luke Elliott, 23, of Cowlersley, and Anthony Driver, 36, of Marsden, went on trial for his murder at Leeds and yesterday both were convicted.
Elliott was convicted of murder and Driver of the manslaughter of Craig.
Elliott was also convicted of the attempted murder of Craig’s friend, Conor Paton, but Driver was acquitted.
Mr Hepburn said: “Craig would see the news and said he thought killers should be hanged rather than rot in jail for years.
“Whatever sentence is passed it will never be enough.
“Craig was so caring and always laughing. Our lives will never be the same again.”
Mr Hepburn said his family had previously experienced the devastating loss of a child when their daughter Nicola died in 1990 aged two years nine months. She passed away from liver failure.
He said: “When we lost Nicola we grieved and when Craig was born three years later he brought so much joy to our lives.
“His death has brought us a heart-breaking grief and we have no new arrival this time to ease the pain.”
Mr Hepburn praised his son Andrew and Craig’s friend Conor Paton, who survived the attack, for the way they have coped since losing Craig who was a ‘big part of their lives’ and the dignity they have shown attending the trial.
He also thanked the police and paramedics who attended to the 999 call for Craig and officers from West Yorkshire Police Homicide and Major Enquiry Team and the Crown Prosecution Service, led by Peter Moulson QC.