A BRUTAL murderer who bludgeoned a mother to death with a claw hammer in Blairhall was today jailed for life.

Aaron Donald, 28, from Torryburn, who smashed 36-year-old Claire Turnbull eight times on the head and left her lying in a pool of blood, was ordered to serve at least 18 years behind bars.

The vicious attack – which only lasted 90 seconds – took place at his flat at Rintoul Avenue on October 5 last year.

Donald claimed he snapped after Claire made sexual advances to his girlfriend, Laura McMurdo. He later told police she had “disrespected him.”

Sentencing him at the High Court in Glasgow, Lady Scott told him: “Claire Turnbull was a deeply loving woman known to be friendly and caring.

“You brutally took her life. You have left her young children, her partner and her family without her.

“You had never met her before that day and launched a savage and frenzied attack when she was in the flat and struck her repeatedly with a hammer at least eight times.

“The reason for this attack is not clear. You said she was disrespecting you.

“You present a very real risk of serious harm to the public. However, it is up to the parole board when you are released.”

As he was led away to the cells members of Claire's family shouted: “Enjoy”, “Eighteen years with his record?” and “It's not enough.”

Claire died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head after being repeatedly struck with “considerable force”. The injuries were so severe that her survival time was “very short”.

Donald’s clothing was sprayed with Claire’s blood and his DNA was found on the handle of the hammer. Gruesome photos of the murder scene were shown in court.

After the murder, police detained Donald and McMurdo at a bus stop round the corner from their flat with a holdall full of their clothing and belongings – along with a supermarket ‘bag for life’ containing the bloodstained hammer.

During the 11-day trial, McMurdo was cleared of murder and the alleged cover-up after the Crown decided there was insufficient evidence to convict her.

The court heard that Donald has 50 previous convictions, including seven for violence.

Defence QC Bert Kerrigan said: “Mr Donald has shown significant remorse. He has a history of psychiatric problems.”

During his trial Donald admitted killing Claire, but claimed he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.

Defence medical experts claimed he had an anti-social personality disorder and was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

However, they admitted their diagnoses were based on Donald’s self-reported claims that guards and fellow inmates at Perth Prison had ganged up to repeatedly sexually abuse and rape him while he was serving a previous sentence.

Donald also told a psychiatrist that nurses were telepathically monitoring his thoughts and that police had had him hypnotised by celebrity illusionist Derren Brown so they could find out what crimes he had committed.

The jury at the High Court in Livingston did not believe him and took less than three hours to return a majority verdict finding him guilty of murder.

In evidence Donald admitted he was responsible for killing Claire: “I’ve got that image in my mind and that’ll be it there for the rest of my life.

“When that poor lassie’s mum is sitting behind me and I hear her sobbing, I’m racked with guilt.

“I’m no monster like folk make out but that happened. I can’t take back what I done. I did grab that hammer.

“I can’t escape the violence that came out but if anybody’s suggesting I intentionally took that lassie’s life I can honestly swear to God I did not mean to do that.”

Friends of the dead woman, who was originally from Methil, described her as a “lost soul” after her baby daughter, Violet-Ivy, became the victim of a cot death in Cupar in 2016 at just three-weeks-old. She is survived by another child of primary school age.