Killer’s sentence is sick joke, say parents of dead school pupil
THE PARENTS of a schoolboy who was killed after being repeatedly punched in the head by a fellow pupil have described the killer’s three-and-a-half year sentence as a “sick joke”.
Ann and Richard Craig, whose son Euan, 14, died following the incident in the gym hall at a school in Glasgow on 23 May, said they want to lodge an appeal against the sentence handed down by Lord Bracadale last week.
They said the killer, now aged 15, who cannot be named for legal reasons, could be free in just over a year following a plea of guilty to culpable homicide.
Last night, John Scott, one of Scotland’s leading QC’s, said the case illustrated the need to keep families informed of legal procedures.
The tragedy unfolded after Euan accidentally kicked a sponge ball which hit the youth on the side of the face. Despite Euan apologising and saying it was an accident, he was subjected to hail of blows to the head.
He collapsed shortly afterwards and died from massive brain injuries the next day in hospital.
Mr Craig, 44, a watch commander with Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, who sat in the Edinburgh High Court with his wife and family members last Thursday when the sentence was announced, said: “This isn’t justice. It is a derisory sentence for taking my son’s life. It’s a sick joke.
“With good behaviour, Euan’s killer will spend little more than a year inside.”
Mr Craig said he and his family were also angry that while the defence team spent almost 30 minutes detailing the killer’s good character, Crown counsel John Scullion had said nothing about Euan’s achievements during his lifetime.
These included Euan’s excellent school record and a citizenship award for helping to save an elderly man who became ill in the street.
Mr Craig added: “We sat in court listening to the killer’s defence team talking about what a good boy he was.
“Not a word was said by the prosecution about Euan or the loss we will live with for the rest of our lives.
“There were no challenges or pleas for a fitting sentence to deter other youngsters from violence.
“This is not what the public expects from Scotland’s criminal justice system.”
Euan’s parents are arranging to meet with Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland in an attempt to press the Crown Office to lodge an appeal.
However, Mr Scott, QC and chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland, said some would regard the sentence imposed on a 15-year-old as excessive and said details of Euan’s character would have been heard at an earlier hearing.
“No-one can properly be critical of a parent whose child has died. But perhaps the fuller picture wasn’t made as clear to the parents as it could be. The boy involved in this case was, and still is, a child and special care has to be taken to make sure he is not dealt with in the same way as adults.
“It raises the question of what is the right sentence to impose. There are those who would argue that sentencing a 15-year-old in this way was is excessive and counter-productive to the development of that young person.”
“The time at which something would have been said about Euan’s character would have been at the previous hearing.
“Lord Bracadale, who is one of our most experience judges, had said Euan was the ‘apple of the eye’ of his father and mother, something he wouldn’t just have been speculating about.”
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