TWO thugs who battered a man to death outside his own home as his girlfriend looked on were caged for life today.

TWO thugs who battered a man to death outside his own home as his girlfriend looked on were caged for life today.

A judge told Asif Rehman and Adel Ishaq they must serve at least 16 years for the brutal and motiveless murder before they can ask to be released.

"It is a shocking indictment of the state of our society that an innocent man should be murdered in a public street, outside his own home, in this manner.

"Senseless violence of this kind must be suppressed," said Lord Uist.

And he described victim, Irish-born labourer William McKeeney, 57, as friendly and popular.

But Rehman, 20, and Ishaq, 20, who both have record for violence, were roaming the streets, looking for trouble and hyped up on drink and drugs.

A nine day trial in Kilmarnock heard that McKeeney was heading back to his home in Pollokshields, Glasgow, after a Saturday night out in a nearby pub, carrying a fish supper.

Just after midnight he was confronted by Rehman and Ishaq who called him "a white cunt" before launching a vicious attack.

Mr McKeeney's partner, Annemarie Newlands, 48, said she was watching from her window for his return.

She looked out to see two Asian men stamping on something.

Ms Newlands went into the street to find it was Mr McKeeney.

His head bore the marks left by his attackers' shoes.

Ishaq of 22 Leven Street, and Rehman of 222 Darnley Street, both Pollokshields, were found guilty of murder and she was in court today to see them sentenced.

But an allegation that the attack on January 15 was racially motivated was deleted from the charge.

And the trial heard that a plan by Rehman and Ishaq to flee the country was foiled by the local Asian community who turned them in.

The verdict prompted a protest outside the High Court in Edinburgh today by a small group from the far-right Scottish Defence League who hurled insults at friends of the two accused as they left.

Extra police were on duty in and outside the building.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson, for Rehman, told the court the assault had not been planned. "It was a spontaneous and obviously very horrible act that happened for no good reason."

The lawyer added that there was no question of a racial motive - Rehman's partner and child were "from the other side of the racial divide."

Derek Ogg QC, said Ishaq was remorseful about what had happened and said no weapon had been involved. "A shod foot was the weapon," retorted Lord Uist.

The court heard that the fatal kicks and stamps inflicted on Mr McKeeney ruptured blood vessels in his abdomen and he died in hospital three hours later.

Sentencing his attackers, Lord Uist told them: "For no reason whatsoever he was set upon in the street by you two when he had almost reached his home and subjected to a brutal and merciless attack which robbed him of his life."

The attack, the judge noted, was witnessed by Ms Newlands. "Such was the ferocity of the violence employed by you that she thought you were breaking up a piece of furniture in the street."

Lord Uist added: "You each walked away leaving him lying in the roadway in a critical condition and callously did nothing to help him.

"It is clear to me that the two of you, having earlier taken drink and drugs, were out that night, roaming the streets of Pollokshields looking for trouble."

The judge also told Rehman that a background report made "grim reading" and noted that his convictions for violence began when he was just 15.

At the time of the attack he was serving a community payback order and was on bail - which added three months to his 16 year sentence.

Ishaq also has convictions for violence.

In 2006 the same judge sentenced vicious gang leader Imran Shahid and his accomplices for the race hate murder of 15-year-old Kriss Donald whose burned body was found beside the Clyde Walkway.

That trial heard evidence of racial tensions between rival gangs in the Pollokshields area.