Alexander Reid profile: Transient beginning and fatal robbery attempt

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ALEXANDER Reid is the second of seven children, born into a family which travelled Scotland, earning a living from seasonal farm work and scrap dealing.

They were later housed in the Maryhill area of Glasgow, and Reid had little schooling, leaving him unable to perform simple reading or arithmetic.

He was 17 when he called at Angela McCabe’s house, claiming he was looking for gardening work, before later returning to stab her to death and steal her purse. Her skirt and underwear were ripped. He has claimed the death was a robbery which went wrong.

In 1985, Reid was sent temporarily to Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose on the basis that his problem was “a personality disorder” rather than illness. While on a day out the following year, he was arrested and later convicted of attempted abduction after trying to take away an eight-year-old girl at a caravan site. After three months in prison, he was returned to Carstairs.

His campaign to be transferred from Carstairs to prison has involved four applications to Lanark Sheriff Court and a challenge in the Court of Session to one sheriff’s decision.

When that was rejected he went to appeal judges at the Court of Session. They ruled in his favour but the then secretary of state, Donald Dewar, successfully appealed to the House of Lords.