A man has been found guilty of battering and strangling to death his new girlfriend weeks after he was granted bail to her home.
Claire Inglis, 28, was found not breathing, badly bruised, with a baby wipe so deep in her throat paramedics could not get an airway tube into her without removing it in November 2021.
Ambulance staff who arrived at the scene in St Ninians, Stirling, were greeted by neighbours shouting: “He’s killed her. Murder.”
Claire’s new partner, Christopher McGowan, 28, was found guilty at the High Court in Stirling on Thursday.
The verdict was unanimous.
A previously convicted domestic offender, he had been freed on bail to stay at her flat just weeks earlier.
Judge Michael O’Grady KC told him: “Those of use who practise in these courts have the misfortune to hear day and daily of the daily of the dreadful things that human beings do one to another and perhaps over time regrettably but inevitably such things can lose a measure of their impact.
“But some crimes still have the power to profoundly shock, and surely your brutal and bestial killing of Claire Inglis is one.
“It was a crime of staggering cruelty and depravity, a crime of utter wickedness
“You have without rhyme, reason or pity taken the life of a young woman, a sister and daughter and mother, who as your partner should have been confident of looking to you for protection
“Instead, you brought to her terrible destruction and to her family a lifetime of anguish.”
Claire, described as a “beautiful, amazing young mum” with a young son was killed just four weeks before Christmas, 2021.
She had announced on Facebook less than two months earlier that she was “in a relationship” with McGowan, a painter and decorator, with a criminal record for violence and other offences, including domestic offending.
Only weeks earlier he had been released from prison, where he had been remanded on charges including dangerous driving following a high-speed police pursuit.
Claire’s parents slammed the Sheriff Court decision to release McGowan to live at their daughter’s home weeks before her death.
Her father Ian said: “He should never ever have been put in her flat with my grandson and Claire – not with the criminal record he had.
“It should never have been allowed.”
Detective inspector Will Harley, Forth Valley CID, said: “Claire had a young family when her life was ended by this horrific attack.
“Her loved ones have been left absolutely devastated and our thoughts remain with them at this extremely difficult time.
“While this conviction can’t change what happened, I hope that it brings at least a degree of closure for her relatives and friends.
“This was a horrendous crime, which involved significant levels of violence. Christopher McGowan cruelly took Claire’s life, showing complete disregard for her and her family.
“He will now have to face the consequences of his actions.
“Violence like this has no place in our society and we will continue to work closely with our partners to bring perpetrators to justice.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country