Glasgow & West Scotland

'No fault' in insane killer James Bryceland case

A sheriff has ruled that there could have been "no reasonable precautions" to prevent the death of a woman who was killed by her mentally ill partner.

James Bryceland bludgeoned and stabbed Jacqueline Hughes, 36, at their home in Glasgow on 19 August 2007.

The 47-year-old paranoid schizophrenic was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

A fatal accident inquiry found there were "no defects" in the system which contributed to Ms Hughes' death.

Bryceland was ordered him to be detained at the State Hospital in Carstairs under an order which will keep him there without limit of time or until such times doctors and the Secretary of State considered he is no longer a danger to the public.

'No defects'

Following a fatal accident inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court last year, Sheriff Norman Ritchie QC has ruled "there were no reasonable precautions whereby the death of Jacqueline Hughes might have been avoided".

In a written judgment he also said that there were "no defects in the system of working" which contributed to her death.

During the inquiry it was heard Bryceland was admitted to Gartnavel General Hospital in March 2006 for treatment and later released as an outpatient and continued living with Ms Hughes and their children.

It was heard he had been a heavy cannabis smoker for around 25 years and that he smoked at least 10 joints a day.

He was described as a happy and easy going man who had no violent tendencies.

The inquiry heard from Ms Hughes' sister, Audrey McLay, who said she had tried to get more information about her partner's condition but could not because it was confidential.

Mrs McLay said: "Every time she phoned she would say that's me phoned them again and they're not willing to help."

She also said she was not sure who her sister spoke to when she phoned.

The inquiry was told Mrs McLay saw her sister up until two days before she died as she had to go and get school uniforms for Jacqueline's children.

Mrs McLay said: "She couldn't get out the house because he wasn't letting her out the house.

Cannabis induced psychosis

"He said she wasn't to go out, she was to stay in, he was locking the door."

She also told the court she saw Bryceland had weapons in the house including a spanner and a knife.

In his ruling, Sheriff Ritchie said: "No member of the family feared for Jacqueline Hughes' safety or foresaw what was to happen."

He said there was no dispute that the diagnosis of a cannabis induced psychosis was correct and that he was receiving the appropriate treatment.

The sheriff also said it was agreed that Bryceland was not detainable in terms of the Mental Health Act during the period leading up to Ms Hughes' death and that as a voluntary patient it was his decision what help to accept and whether or not to take his medication.

Talking about the phone calls and lack of information given to Ms Hughes about her partner, the sheriff said it was not clear when she had made phone calls.

Confidential information

He added: "There was no evidence and no submission from any party to contradict the principle that a patient's medical information is confidential and is not to be revealed to his partner whether married or not.

"However, if there had been any concern for the safety of Jacqueline Hughes a warning would have been communicated to her."

During his trial in 2008 the jury was told Bryceland heard voices in his head telling him that his partner was having an affair with a man who was going to live with her and that his children would be calling him dad.

They heard how Bryceland bludgeoned and stabbed her to death as she lay in bed.

He then stabbed himself but survived a chest wound.

The incident was witnessed by a toddler who had been lying in bed with Ms Hughes and also by a boy of six.

At the end of the trial, temporary judge Rita Rae QC instructed the jury to find Bryceland not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

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