Isabelle Sanders murder: Family’s life term call

The family of Isabelle Sanders, pictured, have taken their campaign for violent re-offenders to be kept in prison for the rest of their lives to the Scottish Parliament. Picture: PA
The family of Isabelle Sanders, pictured, have taken their campaign for violent re-offenders to be kept in prison for the rest of their lives to the Scottish Parliament. Picture: PA
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A GRIEVING family have told MSPs about the murder of their sister in her own home as they appealed for violent offenders in such cases to be locked up for life.

Isabelle Sanders, 51, suffered 37 stab wounds in the attack and her partner was also knifed by Paul McManus during a robbery in Glasgow last year.

You expect when you go home to be safe

Lindsay Dougall, sister

Her brother James Dougall and sister Lindsay Dougall said there is a small group of criminals from which the public “need protection” because prison is not a deterrent.

The family told Holyrood’s petitions committee yesterday they will never get over the attack, but keeping the most dangerous criminals in jail for life would “send out a message”.

Mr Dougall told MSPs: “My sister Isabelle was 51 years old. She was violently attacked in her own home – not just violently attacked in her own home, but chased through the house, stabbed 37 times and she suffered 67 individual injuries.

“Eventually she fell jammed between a chair and a cupboard. At least three or four of the stab wounds penetrated individual organs. She died at the scene.”

He told MSPs that McManus received a 26-year sentence and will be released when he is 45.

“That’s the same age as me; in fact six years younger than Isabelle when she was murdered in her own home,” he added.

McManus was also convicted of attempting to murder Isabelle’s partner, Norman Busby, 86, who was in the house at the time. Afterwards it emerged McManus had been released from serving a previous sentence five weeks before the murder.

The family now want the Scottish judiciary to be given the option to sentence violent ­reoffenders who commit murder to a whole-life custodial sentence. They have lodged a petition at Holyrood calling for the change.

Mr Dougall said statistics show there are about 5 per cent of prisoners in Scotland who have “disregarded attempts at rehabilitation” in the penal system.

“They’ve no intention to rehabilitate; they’ve been through a ‘whole-life’ sentence and yet still they’re released and go on to reoffend again. The public needs to be protected from this 5 per cent because there is no deterrent.”

Mr Dougall told MSPs that he doesn’t believe the current system of sentencing inmates to a “life” term – which must be specified in years and months – is sufficient.

Mr Dougall added: “It would certainly send a message to the public, I would hope.”

His sister Ms Dougall said that the family is still coming to terms with the tragedy.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get over this,” she said.

“The whole thing is unbelievable still, even though it’s a year down the line. I don’t think any of us will ever come to terms with what happened.

“You expect when you go home to your house, you expect to be safe. You don’t expect anything like that to happen to anybody you know.”

Ms Dougall said that a Facebook page set up to support the family showed the support for their campaign.

“People have commented on that and agreed with the need for a whole-life sentence,” she said.

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said the issue could be considered by Scotland’s new sentencing council due to be established in the coming months.