A MAN has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering his best friend on a camping weekend.

William Cameron, 39, from Paisley, was ordered by judge Lord Mulholland to serve at least 17 years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Cameron smashed his best pal 43-year-old Darryl Fitch from Paisley over the head with a blunt instrument causing him to fall from height into water.

The savage attack which left Darryl with four massive wounds to the back of his head took place at Locher Water, River Gryffe near Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, between July 10 and 13 2015.

Judge Lord Mulholland told Cameron, who claimed in evidence that his friend had been killed by a stranger: “Why you did this no one knows, except you.

“You spun a web of deceit to try to hide your actions from law enforcement agencies and Mr Fitch's family and friends. However, the jury has seen through this web of deceit and the lies about a third person being responsible. It was you that murdered Darryl Fitch.”

Lord Mulholland added: “I take into account your actions in not seeking help for Darryl Fitch as he lay dying in the water.”

The High Court in Glasgow heard that although Cameron has his friend's working mobile phone to hand as well as a whistle he did not use them to summon help.

Darryl's body was found on Monday, July 13, 2015, in shallow water near the campsite by two fishermen.

He was lying face down in the water with four large wounds to the back of his head. Pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner told the jurors that he also had injuries consistent with falling from a height.

She said the cause of death was massive blood loss from the head injuries and drowning.

Darryl  had 26 separate injuries including a black eye, a fractured eye socket and four deep wounds to the back of his head. five broken ribs and a fractured neck bone.

The court heard that police found Cameron sitting yards away with a broken leg and suffering from suspected hypothermia and dehydration.

In evidence Cameron denied the murder and said of Darryl “He was like a brother. He always looked out for me. We had a good relationship. He was a good guy.”

Cameron said that they took Valium and drank before setting up camp and told the jurors that he could not put the tent up and added: “Darryl just laughed at me and said: 'You're a nutcase Willie. You can't get anything right,' It was a joke, banter.”

He said that his memory of the weekend was vague.

He said: “We were jovial, having a laugh. Darryl was having a great time, so was I.”

Cameron claimed that as they sat round a camp fire on camping stools he heard a rustling sound behind him.

He added: “It spooked me. There was a path behind us. I was hit on the back of my head and fell forward. It was like a flash.

“I was scared. I was panicking. I remember Darryl jumping up beside me and shouting: 'Run Willie or go Willie.'”

Cameron said he scrambled up the embankment and the last time he saw Mr Fitch was as he glanced back.

He said: “Darryl was standing in a boxing stance.”

The court was told the next thing he remembered was falling and pain.

He said when he woke up there was no sign of Mr Fitch and he assumed he had gone for chips or gone home.

Prosecutor Richard Goddard said: “Only the two of them went camping. The place where this occurred is relatively remote – it is a rural area surrounded by fields. It is not a place where people were likely to stumble upon them.

“There is no evidence that either man was the victim of a robbery. There was nothing missing, both men still had band cards and money.

“What motive was there for a third person being involved.”

Mr Goddard said that Cameron had Darryl's phone and added: “He had the phone and heard it ringing. Why would an innocent person not use the phone to call the police and emergency services.

“William Cameron also had his house keys with him and on the keyring there was a whistle. He must have known he had that, but it wasn't used to summon help.

“A picture emerges of a man who didn't want to attract attention to himself in the immediate aftermath of the death of Darryl Fitch.”

The prosecutor said that Cameron kept changing his stories and addd: “His changes of story coincided with William Cameron's belief that the police were on to him.

“It stretches credulity to suggest a mystery figure came out of the shadows and attacked Darryl Fitch.”