Three found guilty of murdering schoolgirl Caroline Glachan 27 years ago

Robert O’Brien, Andrew Kelly and Donna Marie Brand found guilty of murder at the High Court in Glasgow.

Two men and a woman have been found guilty of murdering a teenager in West Dunbartonshire 27 years ago.

Robert O’Brien, 45, Andrew Kelly and Donna Marie Brand, both 44, killed Caroline Glachan close to her home in Renton in 1996.

She had suffered blunt trauma to the head and drowned.

Judge Lord Braid told all three they had been found guilty of a “brutal, depraved and above all wicked murder”.

The three accused, who would all have been teenagers at the time Caroline’s body was discovered on the banks of the River Leven, denied the allegations against them and each lodged a special defence of alibi.

But the 15-person jury found all three guilty following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Margaret McKeich, Caroline’s mother, told reporters outside the court: “On behalf of Caroline’s dad and myself and my family, this is a day we never thought we would see and I think Caroline can rest in peace now.

“But I have to say a big thanks to DI Stewart and his team and to all the police that worked on it over the years, and obviously to Mr Prentice as well.

“This has been a great day, I just can’t sum up how I feel – and I’m sure her dad feels the same. It will not bring her back but at least we know that who is responsible is serving time for it, because for the past 25 years they have lived their life and they’ve had their Christmases and their birthdays, and my Caroline was in the ground.

“So this is a great day.”

Prosecutors said the three accused arranged to meet the teenager at a bridge near a towpath beside the river between Renton and Bonhill.

They then assaulted the 14-year-old, shouted and swore at her and repeatedly kicked and punched her on the head and body.

From left to right: Donna Marie Brand, Andrew Kelly and Robert O’Brien.

The trio threw bricks or “similar instruments” causing blunt force injuries to her head and body, before pushing or causing her to fall into the river, and ultimately murdering her.

The trial earlier heard how O’Brien had been in a relationship with Caroline at the time. He was around four years older.

The teenager was said to have left her best friend that night to go and see O’Brien, who was known as Robbie.

Caroline Glachan was found dead on her mother’s 40th birthday.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC told jurors: “Caroline Glachan was an excited 14-year-old girl wanting to meet 18-year-old Robbie O’Brien on the Black Bridge at the River Leven.

“She was looking forward to meeting him.

“What she was looking forward to turned out to be a horrific and brutal attack and (she was) left to drown in the River Leven.”

The prosecutor said the evidence in the two week trial – both direct and indirect – presented a “compelling and convincing case” against the trio.

Mr Prentice said: “The Crown case is that Robert O’Brien attacked Caroline with a blunt instrument and inflicted the ten or so blows causing her to fall in the water and to drown.

“He is guilty of murder, nothing less.”

Watch
Caroline Glachan murder: Audio of 999 call made to police

The jury retired to begin deliberations on Tuesday and returned unanimous guilty verdicts for all three on Thursday afternoon.

During the trial, the court heard from Ms McKeich, who said her daughter was “infatuated” with her boyfriend O’Brien, who then went on to murder her.

Ms McKeich said her daughter had previously disclosed O’Brien had “lifted his hands to her”.

She also said she did not approve of her daughter’s relationship with O’Brien as he was a few years older than her.

Caroline’s body was discovered on the day of Mrs McKeich’s 40th birthday.

Upon returning from celebrations in the early hours of the morning, Ms McKeich realised her daughter was not at home. She received the news that her body had been found the following day, on August 25.

@stvnews

‘Caroline can rest in peace’. Two men and a woman have been found guilty of murdering a teenager in West Dunbartonshire 27 years ago. Robert O’Brien, 45, Andrew Kelly and Donna Marie Brand, both 44, killed Caroline Glachan close to her home in Renton in 1996. She had suffered blunt trauma to the head and drowned. Judge Lord Braid told all three they had been found guilty of a “brutal, depraved and above all wicked murder”. The three accused, who would all have been teenagers at the time Caroline’s body was discovered on the banks of the River Leven, denied the allegations against them and each lodged a special defence of alibi. But the 15-person jury found all three guilty following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow. Read more on the STV News website. #murder #stv #stvnews #glasgowhighcourt #highcourt #carolineglachan

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Later in the trial, Caroline’s childhood friend Joanne Menzies, 42, told the court O’Brien had threatened to kill Caroline for “kissing another boy”, and that she had seen O’Brien bully the schoolgirl on more than one occasion.

Forensic pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner said Caroline’s cause of death was drowning, although she had sustained “significant blows” to her head which rendered her unconscious before she entered the river.

She told the court: “She was still alive when she went into the water. The drowning was the ultimate cause of death.”

Charges of assault against O’Brien were dropped during the trial.

Jurors also heard Brand “threatened to batter” Caroline after she found out O’Brien was seeing both of them at the same time and Brand was “unhappy”.

The court heard three people said George Graham, who is now dead, confessed to being responsible for the 14-year-old’s murder.

Witnesses including his then girlfriend Jean McIntyre, who is now dead; his cousin, Margaret Connolly, who was 16 at the time, and Mary Rose Connolly, who is also now dead, gave statements to the police, telling them Graham had confessed to murdering Caroline.

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