Woman jailed for murdering schoolgirl Caroline Glachan more than 27 years ago

Donna Marie Brand sentenced to minimum of 17 years for her role in the schoolgirl's murder in August 1996.

A woman has been sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in prison for her role in the murder of schoolgirl Caroline Glachan more than 27 years ago.

Donna Marie Brand was jailed at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday after being found guilty in December of the 14-year-old’s murder in West Dunbartonshire along with two others – Robert O’Brien, who was in a relationship with Caroline, and Andrew Kelly.

O’Brien and Kelly were jailed for life in January but Brand, who was aged 17 at the time of Caroline’s murder, was unable to be sentenced at the same time as she was in hospital with a respiratory infection.

She appeared for sentencing on Monday by videolink.

STV News

Sentencing Brand, Judge Lord Braid said she played no active part in the assault but shares responsibility because she left Caroline in the river.

He said: “I accept you played a lesser role in the murder than Robert O’Brien, who was the principal actor, and for that matter Andrew Kelly, in as much as there was no evidence that you participated in the assault itself.

“Nonetheless, by its verdict the jury must have found that you were party to a plan to inflict murderous violence upon Caroline Glachan. The violence was in the event inflicted principally by Robert O’Brien but you must bear the consequences of that.

“On the evidence that the jury must have accepted, you had previously threatened to batter Caroline because you were unhappy that she was seeing Robert O’Brien, with whom you were in a relationship at the time, and you went to the towpath knowing that violence was to be inflicted upon her.

“Although you yourself did not assault Caroline, you must take equal responsibility with the others for having left her lying face down in the water when she was still alive – drowning, as we know, being the actual cause of death.”

Speaking outside the court after Brand’s sentencing, Caroline’s mother Margaret McKeich said: “It’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders and as I’ve said before it’s not closure, it’s justice – you don’t get closure.

“There is a void that will never be filled so you don’t get closure, but I’m pleased with the way it went today and I’m glad it’s done.”

During ten days of evidence last year, the jury heard O’Brien, Kelly and Brand had arranged to meet Caroline at a bridge near the towpath beside the River Leven, between Renton and Bonhill in West Dunbartonshire, on August 25, 1996 .

Caroline was repeatedly punched and kicked, and had bricks or similar items thrown at her, causing blunt force trauma to her head and body.

She was pushed or fell into undergrowth and her body was discovered in the river at Place of Bonhill, Renton, later the same day – which was her mother’s 40th birthday.

O’Brien and Kelly received life sentences in January, with O’Brien ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years behind bars and Kelly handed a minimum of 18 years.

When sentencing O’Brien and Kelly, judge Lord Braid described the murder as “brutal, depraved and above all wicked”.

He said O’Brien was the main perpetrator and used “extreme violence” on Caroline.

The judge said while Kelly played a lesser role, he was also involved in inflicting “murderous violence” on the teenager.

During the trial, forensic pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner told the court the 14-year-old was still alive when she went into the water and the ultimate cause of death was drowning.

Ms McKeich told jurors her daughter was “infatuated” with O’Brien but she did not approve of the relationship because he was a few years older.

She also said her daughter had previously disclosed that O’Brien had “lifted his hands to her”.

The High Court of Appeal in Edinburgh confirmed earlier this year that O’Brien and Kelly had lodged appeals against their convictions and sentences.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in