Scotland

'We need protection from violent re-offenders'

Paul McManus and Isabelle Sanders Image copyright Spindrift and police handout
Image caption Paul McManus killed Isabelle Sanders in a violent attack on her home in Crookston in April 2014

The family of a woman stabbed to death by a teenager in a brutal attack in her own home have said the public needs to be protected from repeat offenders.

Paul McManus was only 19 when he killed Isabelle Sanders and seriously injured her partner Norman Busby but he already had a history of crime and violence.

He had been released from custody early just six weeks before the attack on the couple's home in the Crookston area of Glasgow in April 2014.

Image caption James Dougall says the public need to be protected

Isabelle's brother James Dougall and sister Lindsay want judges to be able to pass "whole life" sentences for violent offenders who go on to kill.

Mr Dougall told BBC Scotland: "Paul McManus was high on drink and drugs and was looking for a car to steal.

"For reasons only known to him he targeted Isabelle and Norman's house, knocked on the door, Norman answered and he barged his way in at knifepoint, injuring Norman very seriously.

"When Isabelle came down the stairs he murdered her in a vicious attack with many injuries to her body."

Image caption Lindsay Dougall said McManus had shown no remorse for killing her sister

McManus was sentenced to life for murder and told he must spend at least 26 years in prison.

Lindsay Dougall says that the average punishment part of a murder sentence is 14 years so McManus's sentence for killing 51-year-old Isabelle was "quite heavy".

"But considering the crimes he had committed we don't think it was hard enough because he'll come out of prison a relatively young man," she said.

"He'll be about 45. That's younger than Isabelle was when he murdered her."

Ms Dougall said McManus had shown no remorse for his crimes.

"Until this day he still maintains that he is innocent," she says.

"In court he stood up and said that he didn't do it.

"I suppose it is quite hard to come to terms with forgiving somebody when they still maintain that they didn't do what they have been found guilty of."

The social work report on McManus said he had a "low level of victim empathy".

Image caption The attack took place at Ms Sanders' home in Crookston

His childhood had been characterised by his father's history of offending, alcohol misuse and limited involvement with his family.

It was also affected by his mother's mental health.

He was said to have had a long and extensive history of antisocial behaviour and all efforts to assist him had failed.

Mr Dougall added: "Why shouldn't we have some option that protects the public from these people getting back out on to the streets?

"We don't have the option for violent re-offenders and people who don't show signs of remorse or rehabilitation."

The punishment part of the sentence does not mean that McManus will automatically be released at the end of 26 years; he must still convince a parole board that he does not pose a risk.

Image caption Isabelle Sanders (left) with her brother before the attack

However, Mr Dougall says: "A number of times through his life he's had sentences and been let out early so he presumably passed whatever tests were being conducted and then went on to commit a violent murder while on drink and drugs.

"Obviously that rehabilitation and that risk assessment aren't necessarily effective enough.

"Everyone should have the chance of rehabilitation but should we not be protected from people who spurn those opportunities?"

After Ms Sanders' death, her brother and sister took a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for judges to be given the power to pass whole life sentences.

Holyrood's petitions committee passed it to the Sentencing Council to consider two years ago.

The Scottish Sentencing Council told BBC Scotland that it had responded to the Public Petitions Committee in November 2016.

It said "it considers the proposal to be a matter of substantive policy which would require a change in the law and that, as such, it is ultimately a matter for the Scottish government and Scottish Parliament".

Mr Dougall said: "We need tougher sentencing at times so that there is some sort of deterrent to people like him who don't really care what they do to other people.

"If they don't care then we should be protected from them.

"If it won't rehabilitate them, then I want them held behind bars so it doesn't happen to anybody else."

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