ONE of Scotland's most notorious murderers, sentenced to life for the sectarian killing of a young Celtic fan, spent several days at home over Christmas and is now eligible for parole.
Jason Campbell, who slashed the throat of 16-year-old Mark Scott in an unprovoked attack in Glasgow in 1995 just because he was wearing a Celtic shirt, spent several days at his family home in the Bridgeton area of Glasgow over the festive period.
Campbell received a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 14 years, after which the prison service automatically prepares prisoners for possible parole by carrying out risk assessment, and organising community placements and home visits.
The son and nephew of notorious Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) terror bosses, Campbell – now 37 – will receive more home leave in the coming months and could be released later this year, though there is no guarantee that his appearance before the Parole Board will be successful.
Residents who spoke with Campbell during his visit home said he told them he had deserved his prison sentence and had confronted his crime. It had been reported that Campbell had never shown remorse for the murder.
Although a victim's family can be informed when criminals are on weekend leave, it is not known if Mark's parents and siblings were aware of Campbell's home visits and community work. The Scott family has declined to comment.
As part of his preparations for possible parole, Campbell has been released to serve food to children at a charity project. While at Shotts jail last year he was let out three times a week to work in a community centre in an Edinburgh housing scheme.
One Bridgeton resident reportedly said: "People who met Campbell over Christmas have given the impression of a repenting individual, who has said he has deserved every day he's served in prison.
"The 14 years he's spent inside has made him confront his crime. What he's done will be around him forever. It was one of the most notorious killings in Scotland in the past 25 years, so where does Campbell go from here? The best bet may be to get out of Glasgow and try and start up elsewhere."
Mark, a pupil at Glasgow Academy and the son of a leading corporate lawyer, had watched Celtic's 2-1 win over Partick Thistle at Celtic Park. As he walked home with two friends along London Road they were subjected to sectarian abuse from Rangers fans standing outside a pub.
Campbell ran up behind Mark, who was wearing a Celtic top, screamed: "Ya Fenian b******" and slashed his throat. The murder was witnessed by fans, women out shopping with their children and people in cars and buses.
The case triggered a political row two years later, when Campbell requested to be transferred as a "political prisoner" to the Belfast's Maze prison on account of his UVF connections. The transfer was vetoed by Donald Dewar, then the First Minister.
In June 1979, his father, Colin Campbell, and an uncle, William "Big Bill" Campbell, were among a group sentenced for bombing two Glasgow pubs and a criminal conspiracy to gather arms and explosives for the UVF.
A Scottish Prison Service spokeswoman said the agency would not comment on individual cases, and that release dates were set by the Parole Board.
BATTLE AGAINST BIGOTRY
IN THE aftermath of the murder of Mark Scott, his friend, Cara Henderson, set up Nil by Mouth, Scotland's first organised anti-sectarian campaign group.
His family were involved in setting up The Mark Scott Foundation, which, since its inception in 1998, has developed the leadership skills of 1,000 young people.
Last night, a spokeswoman for Nil By Mouth said: "Having been made aware of the expected release of Jason Campbell this year, naturally our immediate reaction is one of sympathy and compassion for the family and friends of the late Mark Scott.
"We hope that the punishment for this crime has had the intended impact upon the individual."
"In the 10 years that the Nil by Mouth campaign has been working to rid Scotland of sectarianism some things have changed, but the issue itself – this ingrained damaging intolerance of others – certainly hasn't gone away as yet."