HMA v WILLIAM HUGH LAUCHLAN & CHARLES BERNARD O’NEILL

Today at the High Court in Glasgow Lord Pentland sentenced William Lauchlan and Charles O’Neill to life imprisonment after they were found guilty of the murder of Allison McGarrigle in June 1997 at Largs. The punishment parts were fixed at 26 years and 30 years respectively.

William Hugh Lauchlan and Charles Bernard O’Neill, you now stand convicted by the jury of the despicable murder of Mrs. Alison McGarrigle and of disposing of her body at sea. You have previously been convicted by a different jury of other serious charges on the same indictment, involving the sexual abuse of young men and the grooming of a 6 year old boy with the intention of sexually abusing him.

It is clear that you are both dangerous and determined predatory paedophiles and that you represent a high risk to the safety of the public, particularly young men and boys (especially those suffering from some form of vulnerability).

When you became aware that Mrs. McGarrigle intended to report you to the authorities for sexually abusing her son, you conceived a callous and depraved plan to murder her and to dispose of her body. You then put this plan into effect with chilling composure. You went to great lengths to cover your tracks. You must have thought, for some time, that you had succeeded in escaping detection since to this day Mrs. McGarrigle’s body has (tragically) not been recovered. It took determined work by the police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as well as the courage of a number of witnesses, including members of Mrs. McGarrigle’s own family, to bring you both eventually to justice.

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.

You have each already served lengthy sentences of imprisonment imposed in this court for offences of child abuse, but this has evidently not deflected you from further predatory criminality. In the whole circumstances, I must sentence you on the footing that you are highly ruthless and unrepentant individuals with no respect for the law or the values of a civilised society.

In your case Lauchlan I sentence you to imprisonment for life on charge 2.

The law requires me to set a minimum period that you must serve in prison as the punishment part of your life sentence. In fixing this period I take account of the aggravating features of the case. I can identify no mitigating considerations. In the circumstances, I consider that you must serve at least 26 years in prison as punishment before the possibility of release on licence may even be considered. I emphasise that the period of 26 years is only a minimum which I am required by law to set at this stage. You will not necessarily be released after 26 years and may indeed never be released. I shall backdate that sentence to 25 March 2008, when you first appeared in court in relation to these matters.

On charge 3 I sentence you to 8 years imprisonment.

On charge 7 I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment.

On charge 10 I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment.

All these sentences will run concurrently with the sentence on charge 2.

In your case O’Neill, I again impose a sentence of life imprisonment on charge 2. You are older than your co-accused and you were the more dominant personality. In addition, you have been convicted of charge 5 (another charge involving sexual abuse of a minor, of which Lauchlan was not accused). You, like your co-accused, are a relentless and murderous paedophile. In the circumstances, the punishment part in your case must, in my view, be higher. I consider that you must serve a minimum period of 30 years in custody, backdated to 25 March 2008.

On charge 3 I sentence you to 8 years imprisonment.

On charge 5 I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment.

On charge 7 I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment.

On charge 10 I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment.

All these sentences will run concurrently with the sentence on charge 2.

You will both continue to be registered sex offenders for an indefinite period of time.

Finally, I will recommend to the Scottish Ministers that your names be added to the list of persons considered unsuitable to work with children.

Well ladies and gentlemen; it remains only for me to express to you my thanks on behalf of the Court for the most important public service you have performed as jurors in this distressing and anxious case. If I may say so ladies and gentlemen, it has been very clear to me that throughout the trial you have fulfilled your responsibilities in this matter with conspicuous care, diligence and attention. I commend you for that. The administration of justice in this country depends, to a considerable degree, on the contribution which citizens make as jury members. In view of the nature and duration of the trial, I consider that it is appropriate for me to recognise the importance of your contribution by discharging you from further service as jurors for a period of 10 years.

Thank you and good afternoon”.

 

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