Glasgow & West Scotland

Man who killed Paige Doherty in 'frenzied' knife attack jailed for life

Paige Doherty Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Paige Doherty was last seen near the Delicious Deli in Clydebank

A man has been jailed for a minimum of 27 years for the "frenzied" knife murder of 15-year-old Paige Doherty.

John Leathem, 32, was given a mandatory life term after he admitted killing the teenager at his deli in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, on 19 March.

Paige's body was found two days later in a wooded area. She had more than 140 injuries and had been stabbed 61 times.

Leathem claimed he panicked after Paige threatened to report him for sexual assault when he did not give her a job.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption John Leathem faces a life term after he admitted murdering Paige

Leathem was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow, where judge Lady Rae set the minimum time he has to spend in jail before becoming eligible to apply for parole.

The judge said: "You claim... she threatened to reveal you had touched her inappropriately if you didn't give her that job. No evidence has been placed before me to support this.

"Even if true, your reaction was in no way mitigating of this appalling, wicked crime."

Lady Rae described Paige's death as a "savage and frenzied attack" and told Leathem: "What you did was truly reprehensible."

She added: "It is impossible to comprehend how an apparently happily married man, with a young child, who is running a successful business, is capable of such an horrific level of violence.

"Your mental state has been investigated, and there is no suggestion as far as I can determine, of any psychiatric or psychological explanation for what you did."

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Media captionJudge Lady Rae told John Leathem that there did not seem to be any motive for Paige's murder

'Rot in hell'

The judge told Leathem that the jail-term would have been 30 years, but for his guilty plea.

There were then angry scenes in the packed courtroom as he was led handcuffed to the cells.

One woman leaned over the dock and screamed in his face: "Why did you do it?"

There were also repeated shouts of "beast", "monster" "scum" and "rot in hell".

Paige's mother Pamela Munro and step-father Andrew were among a large crowd of family and friends who turned up to see Leathem jailed.

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Media captionPaige's mother Pamela Munro says: "a monster is behind bars"

Speaking outside court, Ms Munro said: "Today we see a monster put behind bars for the unthinkable brutal crime he committed against our daughter Paige.

"There is no sentence high enough to justify what has happened but we can now say there is one less evil man in this world, which then makes the world that bit more safer for our kids to grow up in."

Ms Munro said that her family now had to "take each day at a time".

"There is a huge piece missing in our family that can never be replaced," she said.

"I am thankful for the 15 years we had with Paige - from the kind and generous wee soul she was, to the mature young woman she grew into.

"She may not be with us any more but she will live on through her brothers and sister and all the memories that we share."

Ms Munro thanked police, support workers and the public for their help and said it was now time for her family to be left alone following a "very high profile" and "exhausting" case.

During a previous appearance last month, Leathem admitted murdering Paige .

The court heard that Paige, who was 4ft 8in, had stayed with a friend in Clydebank the night before she was killed.

Nose bleed claim

She had gone into the delicatessen, on Fleming Avenue, to buy a sandwich before travelling to a hairdressers where she worked in Kirkintilloch, about 12 miles away.

CCTV footage played in court showed Paige entering Delicious Deli at 08:21. Leathem is believed to have killed her shortly afterwards.

Just 10 minutes after Paige entered the deli, the shutter to the front door was pulled down.

Leathem later told the owner of a nearby hairdresser who had peered in that "the lassie didn't turn up" and he "had a nose bleed".

After collecting his car and parking it outside the deli, Leathem began his attempt to cover up the murder.

CCTV images showed him running to neighbouring shops to buy bin bags and anti-bacterial wipes.

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Media captionPaige Doherty's killer seen moving body on CCTV
Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption CCTV also showed Leathem running to neighbouring shops to buy cleaning materials

Shortly afterwards he was seen taking Paige's body from the deli to his car.

Leathem went on to change his trousers and bought bottles of bleach before going back to his shop.

Concerns were raised that night when no-one had heard from Paige. Her mother went to police and a missing person inquiry began.

The day after the murder Leathem went on a family outing to Balmaha with his wife and young child.

Image caption Leathem (circled) continued to serve at the deli in the days after he murdered Paige

On 21 March, two days after the murder, Leathem is believed to have moved Paige's body.

His car was filmed on CCTV at the area where her body was dumped - a wooded area close to the city's Great Western Road, less than a mile from the deli.

He then returned to the deli and opened for business.

Defensive injuries

At about noon that day, two people found Paige's body within undergrowth.

A post-mortem examination later recorded 61 stab wounds, including 43 to her head and neck, and 85 further cuts - many of them described as "defensive in nature".

Detectives discovered that Paige had gone to the deli on 19 March "but had not walked away".

Leathem's shop, home and car were searched, after which he was detained.

Image caption Paige's body was found in a wooded area near Great Western Road
Image caption The area where Ms Doherty's body was found was sealed off by police

Leathem initially denied any involvement with Paige's death but later admitted his guilt in the face of overwhelming evidence against him.

Through his lawyer he claimed that Paige had gone to the deli looking for work but that he told her he had other "candidates to interview".

He claimed Paige then told him: "I thought I was getting the job. I will just say that you touched me."

Leathem claimed he suddenly stood up at this comment before Paige started screaming. He claimed he then "panicked" and stabbed her.

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