Glasgow & West Scotland

Murderer paedophiles sue ministers over hurt feelings

Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan. Pics by CIARAN DONNELLY Image copyright Other
Image caption O'Neill and Lauchlan murdered Alison McGarrigle and dumped her body at sea

Two paedophiles who murdered a woman are suing Scottish ministers over lack of contact in jail and for £35,000 compensation each over "hurt feelings".

William Lauchlan and Charles O'Neill killed Allison McGarrigle after she planned to reveal their sex abuse.

The pair say they were previously in a long-standing relationship.

They claim the Scottish government has breached their human rights in relation to inter-prison visits and contact by telephone and letters.

O'Neill, 51, and 37-year-old Lauchlan are serving life sentences in different prisons in Scotland. The authorities have not granted permission for them to see each other in visits.

They argue the Scottish government has failed to respect their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which provides protection for private and family life. They also claim they have been discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.

They say they were in "a long-standing intimate and sexual relationship" before being imprisoned after their trial in 2010.

Both are seeking damages of £35,000, claiming they are entitled to an award for "hurt feelings" among other things.

'Callous and depraved'

It is said: "Their relationship has suffered as a consequence of the treatment they have suffered. They have both felt frustration and distress at being unable to communicate with each other to a greater extent or to have face-to-face contact."

"This is particularly so when heterosexual couples have apparently been afforded greater contact with each other," it is maintained.

The judicial review brought by the prisoners stated that Scottish ministers failed to provide them with "suitable and sufficient contact" with each other.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The men murdered Allison McGarrigle, who intended to report them for abuse

O'Neill was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison, while accomplice Lachlan was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years after they were found guilty of murdering 39-year-old Mrs McGarrigle in Largs, Ayrshire in 1997. Her body, which they disposed of at sea, was not found.

They were also sentenced for sex abuse offences following two trials.

The sentencing judge, Lord Pentland, told them that they were relentless and murderous paedophiles who represented a high risk to the safety of the public.

The judge said that when they became aware that Mrs McGarrigle was intending to report them to the authorities for sexually abusing a boy they "conceived a callous and depraved plan to murder her and to dispose of her body".

He added: "You then put this plan into effect with chilling composure."

He told them: "The consistent theme which permeated the evidence in both trials was your calculating and devious manipulation of vulnerable individuals in order to further your appetites for sexually abusing young men and boys."

'Fundamental rights'

David Leighton, counsel for the men in the judicial review, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh: "This is a court of law and not a court of morals."

He said the men were seeking to relying on "fundamental protections and fundamental rights which the law affords to all persons."

O'Neill is detained in Edinburgh's Saughton prison and Laughlan is held in Glenochil jail, in Clackmannanshire.

Mr Leighton said the men were aware of heterosexual couples, each of whom was in prison, being allowed face-to-face contact, but were not aware of homosexual couples with the same opportunity.

He argued that the state was obliged to assist prisoners to maintain effective contact with close family members.

In the action for judicial review the prisoners are seeking a declaration that the Scottish ministers have failed to respect their rights and that their treatment has been unlawful.

It is also argued that prison rules that require "exceptional circumstances" for inter-prison visits should be set aside. The action maintains that the murderers are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

Scottish ministers are contesting the action and maintain that none of the orders sought from the court is justified.

The hearing continues.

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