‘Limbs in the Loch’ killer William Beggs fails in damages bid over opened mail

Murderer William Beggs. Picture: PA
Murderer William Beggs. Picture: PA
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A notorious murderer has failed in a bid to win damages after his human rights were breached in jail when his “privileged” mail was opened.

“Limbs in the Loch” killer William Beggs had originally sought £5,000 compensation in a judicial review.

A judge ruled in a decision last year that the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) had breached his rights under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers a right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.

But Lady Stacey today issued a further opinion following an additional hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to discuss a remedy ruling out paying damages to the killer.

The judge said that Beggs was “annoyed” over the issue of his letters but had not suffered distress of the severity outlined in a separate House of Lords case.

She said: “I considered carefully whether the fact that [Beggs] raised three actions, showing that the system was not reformed after the first or second action, necessitated an award of damages. I have decided that it did not.”

“The breaches did not involve the reading of any confidential mail. Apologies were made following complaints made by the petitioner,” she said.

“The system for recognition of such mail was altered as a result of the petitioner’s complaints and actions,” said Lady Stacey.

The judge also rejected making a formal court declaration on the issue and said: “I find that just satisfaction is constituted by my finding of breaches of the petitioner’s article 8 rights.”

The opening of the mail occurred between January 2013 and January 2015 when the life prisoner was in Glenochil jail, in Clackmannanshire, and Edinburgh’s Saughton prison.

The judge earlier held that prison staff should not have opened confidential correspondence for Beggs from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Lawyers acting for Beggs had argued that the breach was sufficiently serious to warrant an award of damages.

It was also maintained that from Beggs point of view confidential correspondence was an important matter and the seriousness of the issue should be marked by the court pronouncing a decree of declarator.

But the court was told that the breach consisted of mail being opened in front of Beggs and the contents handed to him.

The court action is the latest in a raft of legal claims launched by Beggs following his imprisonment for the murder of teenager Barry Wallace in Kilmarnock, in Ayrshire, in December 1999.

Begg, 52, was previously jailed in 1987 for another murder but the conviction was later overturned on appeal. He later lost a lengthy appeal against his conviction for the murder of 18-year-old Mr Wallace.

Beggs dismembered his victim after the slaying and disposed of the torso and limbs at Loch Lomond and the head in the sea at Barassie on the Ayrshire coast.

The High Court trial judge, Lord Osborne, jailed him for life and ordered that he serve a minimum of 20 years in jail because of the seriousness of the “appalling offences”.

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