Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Serial killer Angus Sinclair has sentence appeal rejected

Angus Sinclair has been convicted of two murders he committed 37 years ago
Image caption Angus Sinclair was sentenced to at least 37 years in prison

The World's End murderer Angus Sinclair has had an appeal over the length of his jail sentence rejected.

In 2014 the 70-year-old was convicted of raping and murdering teenagers Helen Scott and Christine Eadie in 1977.

He was ordered to serve life in prison with a minimum term of 37 years - the longest sentence ever imposed by a Scottish Court in a murder case.

Sinclair argued the sentence was excessive but appeal court judges upheld the decision on Thursday.

Appeal judges described Sinclair as somebody with an "immeasurable capacity for evil, depravity and sadism".

The 17-year-olds were killed after a night-out at Edinburgh's World's End pub in October 1977, with their bodies discovered the following day in East Lothian.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Christine Eadie and her friend Helen Scott were killed in October 1977

Sinclair was found guilty of the crimes after a five-week trial and, on sentencing, judge Lord Matthews said Sinclair was a "dangerous predator, who is capable of sinking to the depths of depravity".

The conviction brought to a conclusion one of Scotland's most infamous unsolved cases and marked the first prosecution since changes to the country's double jeopardy law.

The legal change meant Sinclair, who has been in prison since the 1980s, could be retried after the court case against him collapsed seven years previously.

The judge ordered him to spend a minimum of 37 years in jail - the same number of years that the families of the girls had waited for justice.

Image caption Christine and Helen were last seen in the World's End pub on Edinburgh's Royal Mile

Last year, Sinclair dropped an appeal against the conviction but continued in a bid to have the term reduced, arguing it was "excessive".

A hearing was held in November but judges have now refused the appeal, meaning the punishment part of Sinclair's sentence will stand.

Among the submissions from Sinclair's legal team was the question of whether 37 years was "necessary, appropriate and fell within the judge's discretion".

They also argued about whether or not some of his earlier convictions should have been taken into account in determining the punishment part of the sentence as they were events which came after the 1977 murders.

'Long wait'

Lady Paton, Lady Clark and Lord Malcolm delivered their opinion in a written judgment published on Thursday.

They said: "We do not accept that the sentencing judge selected 37 years because that represented the length of time which had passed since the commission of the murders.

"As the sentencing judge explains, he had concluded at the outset that a punishment part 'in the high 30s' should be imposed. That was his assessment of the gravity of the case.

"As he puts it, it was only 'coincidentally' that the period selected mirrored the passage of time since the murders. In the result we are not persuaded that there is any merit in this argument."

'Hard work'

They also rejected the arguments relating to his criminal record and refused the appeal.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "We note the decision of the appeal court.

"This brings to an end the long wait for justice for the families of Helen and Christine.

"This was made possible by the hard work and dedication of all senior investigation officers, police officers, procurators fiscal, forensic scientists, police surgeons, forensic pathologists, forensic soil scientists, toxicologists and other witnesses who willingly gave their time and expertise to bring Angus Sinclair to justice."

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