Allison McGarrigle murder: Paedophiles jailed for life for 'devious' crime

TWO men were found guilty today of murdering a woman almost 13 years ago who was planning to report them for abusing a young boy.

Convicted paedophiles Charles O'Neill, 47, and William Lauchlan, 33, denied killing Allison McGarrigle (pictured) in 1997 and dumping her body at sea.

But a jury at the High Court in Glasgow found the pair guilty today of killing the 39-year-old in Largs, North Ayrshire, in June 1997.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mrs McGarrigle, whose body has never been found, was reported missing in 1998 and declared dead in 2005.

The men were brought to trial after a multi-force investigation led to their arrest in March 2008.

Officers from Strathclyde, Fife, Central Scotland and Lancashire were all involved in the operation.

• Charles O'Neill (left) and William Lauchlan

Strathclyde Assistant Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson, who was in overall command of the inquiry, said: "Two extremely dangerous individuals have been removed from our communities as a result of police forces combining to work in the interests of protecting the public.

"O'Neill and Lauchlan were devious, manipulative and highly dangerous. They were willing to kill to ensure their activities did not come to the attention of the authorities.

"The work carried out by the Fife, Central Scotland, Strathclyde and Lancashire forces combined intelligence-gathering with focused investigative work and intensive evidence gathering which ultimately led to their convictions.

"The scale of these operations cannot be underestimated. Dozens of officers from the forces worked around the clock, using every means at their disposal, to stop these men from targeting the vulnerable."

Outside court the victim's son Robert McGarrigle said he was "over the moon" with the sentence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: "Lauchlan and O'Neill have taken away the best mum in the world.

"Allison McGarrigle was a bubbly, happy woman with a heart of gold.

"She loved children and she was taken away from us trying to protect a young boy from abuse.

"For many years we have had to live with not knowing what had happened to her, but we knew she was not missing.

"If she was still alive she would not have left her three kids and missed out on watching her four grandchildren growing up.

"We miss her terribly and wish that we could lay her to rest."

Scott Pattison, the Crown Office director of operations, said it was "chillingly clear" that the pair were "sexual predators who were willing to kill to secure access to children and abuse them for their own gratification".

He said: "Allison had tried to defend a young boy from abuse at their hands. To silence her, Lauchlan and O'Neill threatened her, held her against her will, murdered her and then disposed of her body.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Her body has still not yet been recovered; as a result, her family has not been able to lay her to rest since her disappearance in 1997. We can only imagine the depth of their sorrow.

"Our prosecution teams in Ayrshire and Central have been tireless in their efforts to bring both these men to justice for their crimes.

"Now that Lauchlan and O'Neill have been convicted, justice has been done and in this we hope that the families of all those who have suffered find some degree of comfort."