MORE than eight months have passed since Steven Quail was murdered at his Johnstone home but, for his loved ones, the agony continues.

A light went out in their lives that dark day in February when brutal knife thug Darren O'Neill stabbed 42-year-old Steven to death in an argument over a child's tablet device.

Since then, the family has tried – and failed – to make sense of their tragic loss.

Some comfort finally arrived last week, when O'Neill pleaded guilty to murder at the High Court in Glasgow.

However, knowing that nothing will bring Steven back to them, the fear remains that they will never find peace.

His younger sister Tracey, 37, told The Gazette: "It has affected us all badly and we are all receiving counselling.

"Steven's death is always on our minds. Even in the moments that I think about something else, I feel guilty that I'm not thinking enough about him."

Tracey also revealed she remains tortured by the thought of her brother lying helpless and alone in his blood-splattered flat, in Greenend Avenue, as his life ebbed away.

She said: "I keep picturing Steven lying at the back door, scared and all by himself, as he bled to death.

"It breaks by heart to know how scared and alone he would have felt.

"He didn't die straight away – he would have been terrified, lying on the ground by himself."

Tracey said carpets and wallpaper in Steven's home had to be stripped after the attack as they were drenched in blood.

And there was further agony for his 64-year-old mum Theresa, who was unable to kiss her son goodbye while his body remained in a morgue as a police investigation into his death continued.

Theresa, who suffers from anxiety attacks, said: "It was several weeks after Steven's death that we were able to see him. My son was dead and I couldn't give him a kiss.

"We couldn't go ahead with the funeral.

"When we lost Steven, everything was taken away from us."

Loved ones remember ‘gentle soul’ Steven

Steven’s grief-stricken family will remember him as a gentle soul who was always there for them.

Although he had no children of his own, Steven doted on his 16 nieces and nephews.

He also enjoyed chats with his mum Theresa, 64, and siblings Ian, 46, Tracey, 37, Deborah, 36, and 34-year-old Gordon.

Steven grew up in the Gallowhill area of Paisley, where he enjoyed playing with pals.

He attended Gallowhill Primary and Paisley Grammar School before going on to study Physical Education at college.

Later in life, he developed a passion for gardening and, together with a friend, used his green-fingered skills to run a business.

He was thrilled when he got the chance to move from the Seedhill area of Paisley into a house in Greenend Avenue, Johnstone.

Tragically, just six months later, he was murdered.

Theresa said: “Steven was an easy target because he kept to himself. People took advantage of his gentle nature.

“He had his lawnmower stolen, which really upset him, but he wanted to get back into gardening again.”

Steven was a much-loved uncle and his death has been particularly hard for his young nieces and nephews to take.

Some of them still wear his old polo shirts to bed, so they can feel close to him.

Steven also had a strong bond with Gordon, who looked up to his older sibling.

Gordon, who has physical and mental disabilities, said: “He was a very good brother. He would always say that he loved me and he would see me soon.

“He always told me to behave for mum after we took the bus to Paisley town centre to look round the shops.

“I liked it when Steven visited. We would talk a lot and he would give me a cuddle.”

Gordon and the children have been assured that Steven is “sitting in the comfy clouds” with other lost loved ones.

“It’s really upsetting that Steven is gone,” said Gordon. “I will always love him so much.”

Family faced evil killer in court

Coming face to face with evil Darren O’Neill in court brought back horrific memories for Steven’s family.

O’Neill admitted murdering his innocent victim by stabbing him 25 times.

Several of Steven’s relatives went along to the High Court in Glasgow to see his killer face justice.

And they were disgusted by how calm O’Neill was while in the dock.

Steven’s sister Tracey said: “Seeing him face to face was horrible. He was sitting there without any emotion.

“I was sitting just a wee distance away from him and felt so much anger but none of us wanted to do anything that would hurt Steven’s memory in any way.”

Tracey also hit out at any suggestion that O’Neill was acting in self-defence when he took Steven’s life.

She said: “Steven had 25 thick stab wounds, it was a frenzied attack.”

The court heard that both men stayed near each other in Greenend Avenue.

O’Neill had a home with his partner and young daughter, while Steven lived alone.

In the early hours of February 25 this year, Steven’s neighbour heard “banging” and “rowdiness” coming from his flat.

Around 2am, O’Neill’s girlfriend, Keri McPhee, awoke to find him at the side of her bed and he claimed: “I’ve stabbed a guy.”

Prosecutor Jo McDonald said: “He told her that ‘Quaily’ wanted to see their daughter’s computer tablet and that he was trying to take Ava’s tablet.”

A friend of Steven made the grim discovery of his body when she turned up at his home and the front door was lying open.

Miss McDonald said: “She found Steven Quail lying on his back on the floor in the hall.

“She noted that he was covered in blood. There was extensive blood staining in the hall.”

O’Neill told police he had been at home when Steven was killed but DNA evidence linked him to the crime.

He had been due to stand trial but pleaded guilty to murder last week.

Sentencing was deferred until later this month.

Tracey said “Whatever amount of time in jail he gets for doing this to our family, it could never be long enough.

“I wish he could get the death penalty.”