Two men have received life jail sentences for murdering a schoolgirl in West Dunbartonshire more than 27 years ago.
Robert O’Brien, 45 and Andrew Kelly, 44, killed Caroline Glachan close to her home in Renton in August 1996.
At the High Court in Glasgow, O’Brien was ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years behind bars, while Kelly was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.
Donna Marie Brand, 44, was also found guilty of the schoolgirl’s murder but was unable to be sentenced on Monday as she was in hospital with a respiratory infection and will be sentenced in March, the court heard.
Caroline Glachan murder: Judge sentences two men to life imprisonment
Speaking outside the court on Monday, Caroline’s mother Margaret McKeich said: “This is the day that I’ve been waiting for for 27 years.
“It was more than what I was hoping for, I’m really, really happy. I’m just sad that the other one is not here to get her comeuppance but she’ll get it in March.
“Today I couldn’t have wished for more, the outcome, the whole thing. I am over the moon.
“It’s not going to bring Caroline back but it’s justice for her. I don’t know if closure is the right word but justice has certainly been done.”
Judge Lord Braid described Caroline’s murder as “brutal, depraved and above all wicked”.
He described O’Brien – who was in a relationship with Caroline at the time of her murder – as the main perpetrator, adding that he used “extreme violence” on the 14-year-old.
The judge said while Kelly played a lesser role, he was also involved in inflicting “murderous violence” on the teenager.
He said: “Caroline was a lover of life but due to both of you Caroline has been deprived of the opportunity of living that life, becoming an adult, having children, fulfilling the potential she had.
“You have taken a daughter from a loving mother. Mrs McKeich has spoken of the pain that Caroline’s death has caused, the void her death has left that will never be filled.
“She has been deprived of seeing the woman that Caroline would have become. No sentence that I pass could possibly make up for what she has lost.”
During ten days of evidence last month, the jury heard the trio repeatedly punched and kicked Caroline and threw bricks or other similar items at her, causing blunt force trauma to her head and body.
She was pushed or fell into undergrowth and her body was later discovered in the river at Place of Bonhill, Renton, on August 25 – the day of her mother’s 40th birthday.
Addressing O’Brien, Lord Braid said: “Nobody who heard the evidence of the pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner could fail to be sickened by her descriptions of the injuries caused by you.”
He said O’Brien arranged to meet the teenager but on arrival along with Brand, Kelly and two young children they were looking after, Caroline would have realised it was not a “romantic encounter” but that the teenagers had come “mob-handed” intending to assault her.
He told O’Brien: “You then carried out a murderous assault on Caroline. Then having assaulted her and left her unconscious you left her face down in the river and while she may have died in any event from the injuries inflicted upon her, the fact is she died from drowning.”
Addressing Kelly, Lord Braid said Kelly threw rocks at Caroline and must also accept responsibility for leaving her in the river.
He also highlighted the murder was committed in the presence of two young children.
Caroline Glachan murder: Family give statement after men sentenced to life imprisonment
During the trial, Caroline’s mother said her daughter was “infatuated” with O’Brien but she did not approve of the relationship as he was a few years older.
Mrs McKeich said her daughter had previously disclosed that O’Brien had “lifted his hands to her”.
Meanwhile, Caroline’s childhood friend Joanne Menzies, now 42, said 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.
Dr Marjorie Turner, a forensic pathologist, told the court the 14-year-old was still alive when she went into the water and the ultimate cause of death was drowning.
Lord Baird said that while O’Brien was only 18 at the time of the attack, the fact that he went on to have several convictions including one for attempted murder, and the “brutal premeditated nature” of the attack against Caroline, meant there were no mitigating factors.
He said Kelly was 16 at the time of the murder and that while he also had subsequent convictions, his age and the fact he played a lesser role in the incident provided some mitigation.
Ian Duguid KC, representing O’Brien, said the 45-year-old’s life was blighted by heroin from the age of around 16.
He said O’Brien had described Caroline’s death as an “absolute tragedy”.
Mr Duguid added: “He fully appreciates the nature of what has taken place but he continues to maintain that he and his co-accused were not the people responsible.”
Ronnie Renucci KC said drugs had also blighted the life of Kelly, who he represents, and had urged the judge to take into consideration his age at the time of the offence.
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