A JUDGE has ruled that prison authorities have breached the human rights of “Limbs in the loch” murderer William Beggs.
Lady Stacey found that Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff should not have opened confidential correspondence sent to Beggs, 51, from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
In a written judgment issued yesterday at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, she ruled the SPS failed to respect his rights under article eight the European Convention on Human Rights.
The clause is supposed to guarantee people the “right to respect” for their “private and family life” and their “home and correspondence”.
Lady Stacey ruled the SPS did not follow its own guidelines when guards opened letters addressed to Beggs, who murdered and dismembered 18-year-old Barry Wallace almost 16 years ago.
In the judgment, she described Beggs as a “victim” in relation to his human rights being breached.
She said lawyers acting for the killer could address her on whether further action needs to be taken against the SPS at a future hearing.
She wrote: “I therefore find that the petitioner’s rights under article eight have been breached; that he is a victim; and I will hear counsel on whether a declarator or any other remedy is necessary at a date to be fixed.”
Beggs was jailed for life in 2001 after murdering Mr Wallace and dismembering his body in December 1999 at a property in Doon Place, Kilmarnock,.
He was previously jailed in 1987 for another murder but his conviction was overturned on appeal. Beggs lost a lengthy appeal to overturn his conviction for the murder of Mr Wallace.
During his trial, the court heard how Beggs cut up Mr Wallace’s body and dropped the limbs and torso of his victim in Loch Lomond. He disposed of Mr Wallace’s head by throwing it into the sea off the Ayrshire coast.
The trial judge who jailed Beggs, Lord Osborne, ordered that he serve a minimum of 20 years given the “seriousness of [his] appalling offences”.
The murderer has pursued a series of legal actions since jailed and has previously won a payout because his appeal took too long to be heard.
In the latest action, lawyers addressed Lady Stacey at a hearing earlier this year. Beggs’s lawyers argued that the SPS had breached their client’s human rights.
They claimed this happened because prison authorities opened or delayed delivering his correspondence on various occasions between January 2013 and January 2015.
Beggs was an inmate at HMP Glenochil and HMP Edinburgh between these times.
His advocate Kenneth Campbell QC argued that because the letters had been sent to him from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the correspondence was confidential and should not have been opened.
His representatives also said that SPS guidelines showed that letters sent from the ICO were supposed to be treated by guards as confidential documents. They also told the court that it was not the first time the SPS had not respected the right of Beggs to have private correspondence.