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Man who chopped off disabled woman’s hand may never be freed

Stephen Brisbane put Sandra McGowan's hand in his mum's freezer.

Stephen Brisbane attacked Sandra McGowan after giving her a cuddle.

A man who chopped off the right hand of a 64-year-old wheelchair-bound woman minutes after giving her a cuddle has been given a life sentence.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that after hacking off Sandra McGowan’s hand Stephen Brisbane put it in his mum’s freezer.

Judge Johanna Johnston QC told 34-year-old Brisbane he posed a high risk to the safety of the public and may never be released.

She imposed an order for lifelong restriction – similar to a life sentence – with a punishment part of four years.

But she told Brisbane, who has 100 previous convictions: “You will only be freed when the parole board considers you do not pose a threat to the public.

“You have pled guilty to an attack on a vulnerable and defenceless woman in her own home.

“You inflicted horrendous injuries on her. This has changed her life. She has suffered dreadfully.”

Sandra McGowan’s hand was hacked off and couldn’t be re-attached.

Brisbane admitted entering Miss McGowan’s home in South Road, Dundee, on February 14, 2018 and assaulting her to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment and to the danger of her life.

Defence QC Mark Stewart said: “He has continued to express his deep regret and sorrow for what he did.”

Mr Stewart at an earlier  hearing said : “He thought he was suffering from a serious illness and said he had been advised by Barrack Obama to take crystal meth. He had been told it was the cure for his illness and could be extracted from the bones of human beings.”

The court heard that Brisbane tricked his way into the house and at first Ms McGowan thought he was one of her carers.

But after offering her a cup of tea he went into the kitchen, came back out and began sawing at her right hand with a knife.

Ms McGowan fainted and Brisbane left her lying unconscious on her bedroom floor.

Before he left he picked up the bloodied hand and put it in a carrier bag.

Ms McGowan, was in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke 14 years ago which left the left side of her body paralysed.

She let Brisbane into her home using a remote key fob after he knocked her door at 4.15am.

Prosecutor Richard Goddard said: “She believed it was around 6am and believed it was her carer who usually arrived first thing in the morning.

“The accused walked up, gave her a cuddle, told her his name was Stephen and offered to make her a cup of tea.”

Minutes later Brisbane grabbed her, here was a brief struggle and she fell from her wheelchair.

Mr Goddard said: “As she fell Brisbane seized her right wrist. She saw he had a knife in his hand. He then started to cut her right wrist and she lost consciousness.

“Around two hours later she regained consciousness and saw her right hand was gone.”

When her carer and a district nurse arrived they were unable to get into the house and had to call the police who forced there way into the bungalow.

They found Ms McGowan covered in blood in the bedroom.

A seven-hour operation to try to reattach the hand was performed, without success.

Mr Goddard said: “She was previously able to feed herself, shop for herself, live by herself and enjoy independence.

“She routinely attended clubs and met friends. She is now unable to do any of these things unassisted. She is now in a care home and requires 24-hour assistance.”


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