Glasgow & West Scotland

Family of Isabelle Sanders calls for 'whole life' sentences

James Dougall
Image caption Mr Dougall, the brother of Ms Sanders, has lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament

The family of a woman murdered in her own home in Glasgow last year has lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament to press for longer prison sentences for violent reoffenders.

Isabelle Sanders, 51, was stabbed to death by Paul McManus, 20, during a robbery at her home in Crookston.

McManus was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 26 years.

Ms Sanders' brother James Dougall says whole life terms would protect the public from violent criminals.

During a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last year a jury heard that Ms Sanders was stabbed 37 times during the robbery.

Image copyright BBC - police handout
Image caption Isabelle Sanders died after suffering 37 stab wounds

McManus was also convicted of attempting to murder her partner, Norman Busby, 86, and two robbery-related stabbings.

After the trial, it emerged McManus had been released from a previous sentence just weeks before the murder.

The judge who sentenced him highlighted his "significant" criminal record, which included convictions for theft, assault and robbery and the use of weapons.

Lord Armstrong pointed out that the 20-year-old had already served seven sentences of detention.

Ms Sanders' family has lodged a petition with Holyrood's petitions committee which they hope will attract widespread public support.

Her brother, Mr Dougall, told BBC Scotland: "It is maybe not applicable for every violent offender, but certainly for violent reoffenders who get the chance of early release and then go on to reoffend and who disregard that chance they have been given and go on to commit violent murder specifically.

"I think (in these cases) the whole of life sentence is an appropriate option for the judiciary and guidance should be given to them that they will be allowed to impose that type of sentence.

Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Paul McManus was convicted of murdering Isabel Sanders at her home in Crookston

"So the petition we have started is 'life means life' - that judges have that option for whole of life sentencing in specific circumstances."

Though not used in Scotland, whole life sentences are used by judges in England.

The Scottish government has highlighted the fact that judges already have the power to impose a sentence which will exceed the rest of a person's life.

A government spokesman said: "Scottish courts have the power to impose the equivalent of a 'whole life tariff' in any given case.

"The independence of Scotland's judiciary is a fundamental part of the Scottish legal system. As such, sentencing is a matter for judges who operate independently of Scottish ministers and it is for our courts to decide what sentence to impose in each case before them.

"The Scottish government has previously announced the creation of a specific Scottish Sentencing Council which will promote consistency and transparency around sentencing and encourage better understanding of sentences across Scotland, as well as producing sentencing guidelines for the judiciary."

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