Mother fails in bid to sue over daughter’s murder

Mrs Thomson's appeal was rejected at the Court of Session. Picture: TSPL
Mrs Thomson's appeal was rejected at the Court of Session. Picture: TSPL
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A MOTHER has failed in a bid to win damages, after her daughter was murdered by a violent criminal who was on home leave from prison.

Ann Thomson maintained John Campbell posed “a real and immediate danger” and that the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) owed a duty of care to her daughter Catherine, 26, and other members of the public not to release such inmates on short-term leave.

Campbell fatally stabbed her in the neck at her home in Moodiesburn, North Lanarkshire, in 2005.

He had been jailed for eight and a half years in 2002 after serious knife attacks on his estranged wife and her female friend, after he was released on licence from prison.

Three days before he fatally stabbed Miss Thomson, he had been allowed out of Castle Huntly open prison, near Dundee, to visit his mother’s home in Moodiesburn.

After the attack on Miss Thomson, Campbell, 34, fell to his death from an upper balcony in Glasgow’s Barlinnie prison.

Mrs Thomson raised an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh against the Scottish Government, which is responsible for the SPS. She sued for £50,000.

She claimed Campbell should not have been deemed suitable for low-level supervision and should not have been considered for a short leave. She also said the SPS did not protect the life of her daughter in terms of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides protection of the right to life.

The Scottish Government contested the action and in 2011 Lord Brodie dismissed her case.

But Mrs Thomson challenged the ruling before three judges at the Court of Session, who rejected her appeal yesterday.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lord Menzies and Lady Dorrian, said: “In order to succeed, the pursuer [Mrs Thomson] must establish a special relationship which exposed the deceased to a particular risk of damage as a result of negligence by the defenders.”

Lord Carloway said an assertion that Campbell had posed a danger to people with whom he would “have dealings” on his weekend leave “says little more than that any person with whom he came into contact, from the moment of stepping off the bus in central Glasgow, could potentially be at risk from him because of his underlying recidivism”.

He said if liability was to be imposed on the SPS on the basis advanced in the case, “it would potentially render the SPS and perhaps the Parole Board open to claims from any person who became a victim of a prisoner released before the mandatory date of his/her liberty”.

He added: “Such a regime would have potentially serious consequences for the proper functioning of both these institutions in the care and rehabilitation of prisoners and hence to society as a whole.”