Two killers who murdered a mother after she threatened to expose them as child abusers have launched a claim for compensation after their feelings were hurt.
The two men, Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan, say that they should have been allowed face to face contact because they are lovers. They are both serving life sentences for the murder of Allison McGarrigle in 1997. The 39-year-old’s body was dumped in the Clyde estuary after she had been strangled and stored in a wheelie bin. Their victim had threatened to tell police about a boy the paedophile pair were holding as a sex slave.
O’Neill and Lauchlan are now seeking damages of £35,000 each after prison officials stopped them from seeing each other and, to rub salt in the wounds, their case is being funded by legal aid.
It has been condemned by Members of the Scottish Parliament and campaigners who say that the bid for public funding, brought under the European Convention of Human Rights, should not have been accepted. The pair, held in separate Scottish jails, say they are the victim of anti-gay discrimination and hope to overturn the ban at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Scottish Tory justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell told the Daily Express: “This pair seem to think they should be granted the very rights they denied their victim in the most brutal of ways.”
“Human rights laws were established for very good reasons. “But abusing it in this way is shameless and unacceptable, and shows exactly why they need to be looked at again.”
Former police officer Graeme Pearson, a Labour MSP for South of Scotland, pointed out that had the pair been determined to stay in a relationship with each other they could not have murdered another person.
“At a time when public services have difficulty in maintaining medication for cancer patients, provide housing for the elderly and for young families and provide legal aid to those on meagre incomes, the launch of this legal challenge will be seen as an insult by many of my constituents,” he said.
Both men abused children in Britain and abroad and have twice been questioned by officers involved in the Madeline McCann inquiry. They were thought to be in Spain looking for potential victims at the time the toddler vanished from a Portuguese resort in 2007.
David Leighton, counsel for the killers, told the judicial review in Edinburgh:
“They seek contact with each other through letters, by telephone and in particular through what is called inter-prison visits, allowing face-to-face contact.
“The petitioners are personally aware of heterosexual couples being afforded face-to face contact. They are not aware of any homosexual couples being afforded an opportunity to have face-to-face contact.”
But the Ministers fighting the claim say that a prisoner is only entitled to a visit from an inmate in another prison only in exceptional circumstance.