The killer's story

KEIRAN Botterill's dependency on hard drugs caused his life to unravel and spiral out of control, one of his closest friends claimed today. The 26-year-old began using heroin and crack cocaine around two years ago, stealing to fund his crippling habit.

Josh Warwick

KEIRAN Botterill's dependency on hard drugs caused his life to unravel and spiral out of control, one of his closest friends claimed today.

The 26-year-old began using heroin and crack cocaine around two years ago, stealing to fund his crippling habit.

Hayley Gissing, who allowed Botterill to lodge at her Stowmarket home in the days leading up to Zak Brown's murder, said: “He was always in and out of trouble from an early age, but he started to really struggle with his addictions.

“When he got on to heroin a couple of years ago things really started to go wrong. It's so sad.

“I know he burned a few bridges in his home town because of his drug habit and because he would steal to support it.”

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Miss Gissing said Botterill had been in love with Heidi Stevens, who had ended their relationship when she began seeing Mr Brown.

“Heidi and Keiran were pretty rock-solid when they first got together, until about March last year. Then she went away for a week which made Keiran worry.

“She had a habit of doing it, though. She would text to say 'I will be home soon' and then she wouldn't come back. Keiran would be there just waiting for her. They lived together for about a year and he really did love her.

“On the night it happened I think Keiran was at breaking point. It was either going to be him or Zak who died. I think he'd had enough.

“Keiran took it badly when Heidi and he broke up, but he kept it to himself.

“He had heard through another friend that she was seeing Zak. He had heard rumours, although I don't think he and Zak had ever met.”

Originally from Northam-pton, Botterill moved to Suffolk as a boy, attending Stowmarket High School.

Miss Gissing said he lived with his father and step-mother until he began to “go off the rails” in his early teens. After dabbling in soft drugs, Botterill soon moved on to harder and more addictive substances. Miss Gissing said: “I have visited him regularly in prison and I know he's devastated that one silly moment has caused this.

“Keiran is pretty withdrawn at the moment. The drugs issue and what they have done to him has hit him hard in prison. He has realised how drugs have affected his life.”

During his trial, the 26-year-old told Ipswich Crown Court how he kept a blade as a means of protection.

Miss Gissing said he felt panicked and afraid when he “came down” from the high of hard drugs.

She said: “He used to carry a knife because he would be so paranoid after he had smoked crack and was on a come down.”

His history of knife possession spans back to May 2002, when Botterill threatened to stab a member of the public who had accused him of burglary.

In 2005, Botterill held a four-inch lock knife to the neck of a man following an argument in the front room of a friend's house.

Around two months later, Botterill tried to stab a man with a butter knife following another argument.

In November 2005 the defendant was stopped and searched by police, who found he was in possession of a four-inch lock knife.

Finally, in July 2006, Botterill stole three bottles of vodka from a shop. When confronted by the manager Botterill shouted “come over here and I will stab you”, before walking away.

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