Aberdeen murder victim's family say red flags were ignored

By Connor Gillies
BBC Scotland news

Published
image copyrightGeddes family
image captionAlan Geddes is survived by his young son

The sister of a man murdered by a newly-released prisoner has claimed warnings about the killer were ignored.

Stuart Quinn, 35, stabbed 56-year-old Alan Geddes 40 times in Aberdeen in 2019 - the day after he was freed.

Quinn had travelled to a homeless unit only to find it was shut. Father-of-one Mr Geddes let him stay in his flat but was then attacked.

Sandra Geddes, 65, told BBC Scotland News she believed her younger brother's death was "absolutely avoidable".

Quinn had a record of violent behaviour, and Ms Geddes said: "It should never have happened."

Scotland's justice secretary, Humza Yousaf, has now offered to meet the family to discuss their concerns.

Quinn was jailed for a minimum of 18 years last week for the murder.

The High Court in Glasgow was told he had been freed just the day before the killing, after previous convictions for assault.

image copyrightPolice Scotland
image captionStuart Quinn admitted the killing

Quinn was said to be "upset and crying" on his release and was due to receive help for personal issues.

Unable to find a bed, he ended up in a lap dancing club in the city. Mr Geddes was also there with a friend, and chatted with Quinn.

Mr Geddes - a former model - offered to pay for Quinn to stay at a hotel, but it was full so he allowed Quinn into his flat in the city's Ruthrieston Crescent.

'Red flags'

Mr Geddes was later found lying at the bottom of stairs with multiple injuries.

Police arrived to find Quinn clutching a knife, which he threw down, and he admitted what he had done.

Quinn initially stated he had stabbed Mr Geddes in self-defence but Mr Geddes had injuries suggesting he tried to ward off the killer.

His sister said "red flags" had been missed in the case.

media captionAlan Geddes' sister says the family has been "broken" by the tragedy

She said of her brother's death: "My instant reaction was devastation - couldn't believe that it had happened. Since then I have been desperate to find out what exactly happened to him.

"I didn't know anything about Stuart Quinn, then to hear about his past, his convictions, I understood that there was more to this.

"There was a pattern here of violence, I think in the past he had reached out for help, and there was nobody there listening to him."

She explained: "There's been a breakdown on communications here. Prior instances that were flagged were ignored.

"I think he had a switch and Alan was the one who paid the price for it."

'Such a fundamental mistake'

Ms Geddes said the murder of the "popular guy" had "broken" the family.

"It's unbelievable this has happened to Alan when he was just trying to help someone and I can see my brother doing that, feeling sorry for him", she said.

"It makes me extremely disappointed in our criminal justice system. I've never sat down with Stuart Quinn but the signs were all there and they were ignored.

"Alan I don't think had a chance. I think he just flipped that night. He thought he was protecting himself.

"To send him for a bed and it's actually closed - that is such a fundamental mistake that as been made to allow that lad out knowing he was crying and needing help."

Asked if his death was avoidable, she said: "Absolutely. It should never have happened. That makes it harder.

"He suffered an extremely violent death. I wonder what his last thoughts were. I will live this for the rest of my life".

"It should have been prevented".

image captionNic Flavell said he had to fight Quinn off in 2018

Nic Flavell, 44, a former neighbour of Quinn's, said he found him in his house in Westhill, Aberdeenshire, in 2018.

"He was holding a screwdriver", he said.

Mr Flavell said Quinn walked towards him, swinging the screwdriver, and they then fought, while his girlfriend and children hid and tried to raise the alarm. Neighbours started to help, before police arrived and he was detained.

Mr Flavell said there had also been another incident involving neighbours with Quinn and a baseball bat.

'I am heartbroken'

Mr Flavell said of the Geddes family: "I am heartbroken for the family - it was all avoidable."

The Scottish government said in a statement: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Geddes' family. While nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved-one, we note the life sentence imposed on the person responsible for this terrible crime.

"We are working with prison, health and local authority partners to continue reducing reoffending - strengthening the management of prison leavers to reduce risk and keep people safe.

"We are also improving support for victims' relatives, including creating a service specifically to help those bereaved by crime."

Supt Neil McDonald, of Police Scotland's North East Division, said: "The murder of Alan Geddes was investigated thoroughly by Police Scotland and Stuart Quinn was quickly arrested, charged and pled guilty. Our thoughts remain with Alan's family and friends who have suffered a terrible loss.

"We have not received any complaints about the police handling of this case. If anyone wishes to raise concerns we would ask them to come forward and speak to us."

No other incidents of violence were reported to police involving Quinn in the Westhill area at the time.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "The SPS does not comment on individual cases".

Aberdeen City Council said: "Aberdeen City Council's homelessness services operate 24/7, 365 days per year. There is no record of Mr Quinn presenting to Aberdeen City Council for support."

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