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Call for whole life sentences follows Doherty killer appeal

24 February 2017

Scottish Conservatives have said they will try and change the law to permit whole life sentences, following the Criminal Appeal Court decision last week to reduce the minimum term to be served by the killer of 15 year old Paige Doherty.

John Leathem, who attacked the girl when she visited his takeaway shop in Clydebank, inflicting 146 injuries before dumping her body, had the 27 year minimum term of his mandatory life sentence cut to 23 years by appeal judges, based on a comparison with other cases. Leathem will still have to apply to the Parole Board at the end of that time before he can be considered for release.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson however claimed that the decision "serves no justice to Paige and her family", and in Holyrood yesterday called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to bring in whole life terms, as can be imposed south of the border, as "there are to many families... who do not feel they are getting the justice they deserve". The party will attempt to introduce a member's bill if the Scottish Government does not act.

Ms Sturgeon said that "there are many occasions when I look at decisions of courts and wish different decisions had been reached. It may well be this is one such case". However she stressed the independence of the judiciary.