DISGRACED former MSP Bill Walker was freed from jail yesterday after serving just half of his 12-month sentence for a catalogue of domestic abuse.
The 71-year-old, from Alloa, was found guilty of offences against three former wives and a stepdaughter.
His release from Dumfries Prison prompted criticism from domestic abuse campaigners who claimed the criminal system did not deal with the crime adequately. He was found guilty in August last year of 23 assaults spanning decades and one breach of the peace.
Walker, who kept his Dunfermline seat for 16 days after his conviction, was jailed for a year at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last September.
Sheriff Kathrine Mackie told Walker he had showed “contempt” for his victims as she imposed the maximum sentence available to the court.
She added: “Your incredulity at being convicted and your perceived victimisation were further indications of your abdication of responsibility for your behaviour.”
The disgraced former SNP politician was freed under automatic early-release rules.
He made no comment as he left the jail at 8:10am.
Walker, who denied all the charges, plans to appeal and has a court hearing scheduled for next month.
Last night, Lily Greenan, manager of Scottish Women’s Aid, said that while they had been expecting Walker to be freed, his case showed the Scottish legal system was not properly equipped to deal with domestic abuse cases .
She said: “It was useful he went to a specialist domestic abuse court because the sheriff who sat on his case was familiar with the dynamics of domestic abuse and saw the patterns of behaviour that were clear from the testimony.
“But it raises the question of whether or not this is the right level of court for prosecuting this sort of domestic abuse. He’s out after six months for 30 years of offending behaviour against three different partners and his stepdaughter. It doesn’t seem justified, somehow.”
The former SNP MSP was suspended and later expelled from the party after the allegations surfaced in March 2012. He stood for some time as an independent MSP then resigned from the Scottish Parliament after facing pressure from campaigners and MSPs following his conviction.
At the time, politicians from all sides condemned Walker’s behaviour and questions were raised about how cases of domestic violence as severe as his should be dealt with. The Crown Office is carrying out a review.
Sheriff Mackie had found Walker guilty of assaulting his first wife, Maureen Traquair, in the 1960s and 1980s and his second wife, Anne Gruber, between 1978 and 1984. Walker was further found guilty of assaulting and injuring Mrs Gruber’s 16-year-old.