Aaron Thomson (left) and Dillin ArmstrongImage copyright
Police Scotland

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Aaron Thomson (left) and Dillin Armstrong were each jailed for 10 years

An armed gang who hunted a man down in an East Lothian street last Hogmanay have been jailed for up to 10 years each for attempted murder.

Rhys Reynolds, 26, was chased and attacked with knives, a metal pole and a rock in Delta Drive, Musselburgh.

Dillin Armstrong and Aaron Thomson were each jailed for 10 years. Dean Riding and Kane Reilly were each given an eight-year sentence.

A 16-year-old, who cannot be named, was sentenced to seven years detention.

A sixth accused, Jayson Dodds, 19, was acquitted of attempted murder but found guilty of assault to injury. He was jailed for four years.

Mr Reynolds suffered 36 injuries including multiple wounds and facial fractures as well as bleeding to the brain.

He was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on in addition to being assaulted with weapons during the murder bid on 31 December 2018.

‘Cowardly and vicious assault’

Thomson, 20, Armstrong, 24, Reilly, 18, and the 16-year-old were all found guilty of attempted murder following a trial last month.

Riding, 22, had earlier pleaded guilty to the murder bid and was the only one convicted of striking the victim with the rock or paving slab.

All of the gang were given a further three-year period of supervision after their custodial terms.

Judge Gordon Liddle told them: “The only difference between murder and attempted murder is that death did not result. What you have done is an outrage.”

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Rhys Reynolds was attacked in Delta Drive, Musselburgh

Judge Liddle pointed out that the jury was repeatedly shown graphic footage of the crime which he condemned as “a cowardly and vicious assault”.

He said five of them had pursued Mr Reynolds – with Dodds arriving later armed with a metal pole – before he fell and was subjected to a savage attack.

The judge said the attack ended with Riding picking up the rock or slab and throwing it down on the victim “in what appears to be an attempt to finish him off”.

“Eyewitnesses repeatedly said they thought Rhys Reynolds was going to die. He is fortunate to be alive,” he added.

The judge told the gang, during a heavily policed sentencing hearing, that background reports prepared on them repeated a story of troubled backgrounds and difficult upbringings.

But he added: “Well, let me tell you not everyone who has a troubled background or difficult upbringing ends up being the sort of thugs you are.”

‘Callous disregard’

The judge told the 16-year-old he was imposing an extended sentence of detention and further supervision on him as the public required to be protected from the “callous disregard” he had for the welfare of others.

He told Thomson, who has previous convictions for assault and public disorder, that he was clearly “a violent individual”.

And he told Armstrong, from Haddington, that he had “an appalling record”, involving 18 offences over seven years.

The attack happened after a disturbance at a flat in Musselburgh.

Part of the chase and attack was caught on CCTV which was shown during the earlier trial.

Det Con Ryan Gilhooly, of Police Scotland, said: “This was a horrifically violent attack by the men who showed complete disregard for the victim’s life.

“Their brutal actions could have cost the man his life and this has been a complex inquiry to ensure those responsible have been brought to account for their actions.

“I’d like to thank the victim for his assistance throughout our inquiries and hope that the sentencing today will offer some comfort as he moves forward from his ordeal.”

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