Man and woman tried to murder two children by cutting gas pipe before attacking each other with knives

A man and woman who tried to murder two children and attempted to kill each other have been jailed for a total of 19 years.

Stacey Archibald, 33, was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment after she was earlier convicted of three charges of attempted murder and one of culpable and reckless conduct.

Her co-accused Christopher McTaggart, 42, was given an 11 year jail term after he was found guilty of three attempted murder charges and an offence of culpable and reckless conduct.

The pair were also ordered to serve further five year periods of supervision in the community when they can be returned to prison if they breach licence conditions.

They cut a live gas pipe at Archibald’s home in Stenhousemuir and attached a hose to it and put the other end into the living room, causing gas to flow into the property.

They took steps to prevent gas escaping by sealing windows, vents and a door and exposed two boys, who were sleeping overnight in the living room, to the effects of gas inhalation to the danger of their lives. The children later left the property to go to a relative’s home.  

The pair’s reckless conduct on April 22 and 23 in 2022 also caused a risk of explosion and fire and endangered the lives of other occupants of the building and posed a danger to the public.

Archibald and McTaggart, of Mauchline, in Ayrshire, remained at the flat and inflicted serious, disfiguring knife wounds on each other’s arms in a bid to murder each other.

They had denied a series of charges during a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh but were found guilty of the attempted murders and reckless conduct. The trial judge, Lord Weir, told them they were convicted of “serious and concerning offences”.

The court heard that after emergency services were alerted police found notes in the house, including a document headed up as “the last will and testament” of the pair.

The first police officer to arrive at the scene, PC Andrew Inglis, 47, said: “As soon as I stepped out of the police car I could smell a strong smell of gas.” 

He said a woman with a blood soaked towel around her arm and told him she and her partner slashed each other’s wrists. He said: “She said she had damaged the gas as well.”

“She said he was in the property and bleeding out,” he said. He said the smell of gas was stronger inside the building and he saw the cooker was in the middle of the kitchen floor.

He found a man in a bedroom lying on a heavily blood soaked bed and managed to get him out with the aid of a colleague.

PC Iain O’Donnell, 37, said McTaggart told him Archibald was suffering with her mental health and she cut him and he cut her. He said: “I believe it was ‘she done me. I done her’.”

McTaggart told him that he held the gas pipe and Archibald cut it, but claimed that he had capped it again.

Lord Weir told Archibald and McTaggart that the nature of the offences they committed was such that a significant custodial sentence was “inevitable”.

The judge said he took into account that two of the victims were children and the wider danger to the community posed by their actions.

The court heard that Archibald was a first offender but McTaggart has a criminal record, including for theft, drug possession and breaching court orders.

David Moggach, counsel for Archibald, said she has a mental health disorder and suffers from a personality disorder.

He said she has since made progress but asked the judge to take account of her poor mental health at the time of the offences.

Defence counsel Colin Neilson, for McTaggart said he suffers from PTSD and was assessed as a medium risk of further offendings.

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