THE HEARTBROKEN family of Michael O’Hanlon have spoken of their anguish after his killer had his sentence reduced on appeal.

Janice O’Hanlon and daughter Haylie Smale have spoken for the first time of their grief at losing their beloved brother and uncle, and of their “horror and disgust” that his killer, Steven Kirkwood had his 14-and-a-half year jail term reduced to 12 years last week.

Kirkwood, was jailed in June, almost a year after he challenged 44-year-old Michael, of Barclay Gardens in Perceton, to a fight, then stabbed him to death in the office of HK Autotek garage in Stevenson, Ayrshire, on July 25, last year.

Today his sister Janice said her family has been “let down by the justice system”.

She told the Times: “He took Michael’s life and he destroyed our lives. Once again we feel totally let down by the justice system.

“I thought 14-and-a-half years wasn’t long enough in the first place, but to have it reduced is just unbelievable. I hope he comes out of that prison in a box.

“Even the fact that he has appealed his sentence shows, again, that the only person he thinks about is himself.”

Michael’s niece Haylie, 23, says even during the trial the family felt that Kirkwood was given more support than his victims.

She said: “We were told not to look at Kirkwood whilst in the court and not to react to anything that was being said, yet he was allowed to signal to his family and smile and mouth words to them. Again the system is all in favour of the criminal and not the family of the victims.”

Kirkwood’s original murder charge was reduced to culpable homicide under provocation by the jury at the High Court in Glasgow.

But Janice says the jury were not told of the killer’s previous convictions until after they had reached that decision.

She said: “To me he should have been charged with murder. You don’t take a knife to confront someone unless you plan to use it. What other outcome could there possibly have been? His lawyer claimed that he hadn’t taken the knife and it just miraculously appeared on the ground on the middle of the confrontation. Just more lies to try and get out of what he done.

“The jury didn’t know about his previous convictions for violence and having weapons when they reduced the original charge from murder to culpable homicide. I will never forget the look on their faces after they had decided to reduce the charge and those previous convictions were read out. They actually hung their heads in shame.”

Haylie says even now, more than a year after the crime, she can’t even bear to say Kirkwood’s name.

She said: “He’s absolutely disgusting. There are no words to describe how I feel about him. I would call him an animal but would be too kind. He is a beast. And to think he thinks his sentence is excessive, after he took my uncle’s life. It is just unbelievable.”

Janice and Haylie also paid touching tribute to Michael - known as ‘Musk’ - who at 6ft tall and 17stones was the family’s “gentle giant”

Janice said: “Michael was a quiet guy but you felt his presence when he was in the room, even if he wasn’t saying much. He was very loyal and so family orientated. Family meant the world to him.

“He was godfather to my youngest daughter Ashley and also to his friend’s twins, which just shows how much he meant to people.”

But Janice says she struggles to find a way to live life without her baby brother. She said: “I still wake up every single day and get a shock when I remember what has happened.

“It’s like reliving it all over again every time I open my eyes. It’s like a punch in the gut. It’s just devastating. We have to just find a way to go on with our lives but it is so hard to go on without him.”