Two paedophiles who murdered a woman after she threatened to expose their abuse have lost a human rights challenge over a bid to see each other in jail.
Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan, who claim to be homosexual, had sought damages of £35,000 each for “hurt feelings” after claiming they were the victims of sexual discrimination.
They complained their right to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been violated because prison authorities refused to arrange visits for them.
But yesterday a judge said: “I have rejected the petitioners’ claim principally for the reason that the existence they had together pre-incarceration, focused as it was on finding boys and vulnerable youths whom they could groom and sexually abuse, does not engage, or has not been shown to engage the ‘family life’ component of Article 8 ECHR on which they rely.”
Lord Stewart said: “The joint petitioners are Charles O’Neill, 52, and Wiliam Lauchlan, 39. Mr O’Neill and Mr Lauchlan are predatory paedophiles, a gay couple (so it is averred in the petition) convicted of crimes of extreme depravity, imprisoned for life with minimum terms of 30 years and 26 years respectively, locked up in different prisons, Glenochil and Edinburgh.”
The pair raised a judicial review at the Court of Session claiming the Scottish Government had failed to adequately respect their right to a family and private life.
The judge heard at a continued hearing in the action that the prison authorities accepted they had been in a same-sex relationship before they were taken into custody in 2008 and that since the case first came to court in November last year one inter-prison visit had already been facilitated.
They had been requesting visits to each other since at least 2010 claiming it facilitated their “family life”, which until recently had been rejected by the prison service.
Lord Stewart said the case was not about the right to conjugal visits, which in any case are not permitted in British jails.
He said: “In this case I feel justified in saying that the life Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan have had together when at liberty since 1993, to the extent evidenced to me, is so negative that it cannot be ‘family life’ as that concept should be understood.”
They were jailed for life after they were convicted of strangling 39-year-old Allison McGarrigle as she slept in Largs, Ayrshire, in 1997, and dumping her body in a wheelie bin before disposing of it at sea.
Her body has never been found and she was declared dead in 2005.