Anger at early release as Simon San’s attacker goes on rampage
A TEENAGER who was jailed for assaulting tragic takeaway driver Simon San during the attack which killed him was part of a joyriding gang who stole three cars and led police on high-speed chases in the Capital.
Keir Rodger broke into a house with two friends and stole three sets of keys before each of them took a vehicle and drove off across the city.
The 18-year-old, who was freed early from a 34-month sentence for his role in the killing of Mr San in August 2010, which had already been reduced on appeal to 24 months, refused to stop the stolen car when confronted by police in Burdiehouse.
Rodger pleaed guilty to housebreaking and a series of motoring offences whilst on bail, when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday alongside David Colley, 17, and Harry Tant, 20.
All three are currently on remand at Polmont Young Offenders Institution.
Politicians today condemned the early release which allowed Rodger back on to the streets to re-offend and the San family’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said the latest offences would compound their sense of injustice.
Mr Anwar said: “I can understand the public’s concern that repeat offenders are being released before they’re rehabilitated.
“In the context of the case of Simon San, his family believes that they did not get justice for his death and [Keir Rodger’s appearance in court after being released early] will compound the belief that the family have.”
Lewis Macdonald, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “At the end of the day, the courts have to make their judgements. They do not always get it right but they have to make judgements on the basis of the evidence in front of them. But sentences should mean what they say – two years in jail should mean two years in jail.
“It’s certainly worth remembering that one of the things agreed for the Criminal Cases Bill is that sentences should include punishment and public protection. The case [of Keir Rodger] is clearly one where both of these elements should be in play.”
The court heard that Colley raced through the streets of Edinburgh at speeds over 100mph, driving the wrong way down carriageways and accelerating towards police cars, forcing them to take evasive action.
The trio pleaded guilty to carrying out a spree of housebreakings and car thefts in March.
Rodger, Colley and Tant admitted breaking into a home in Corbiehill Road, Davidson’s Mains, on March 13, stealing four handbags which contained bank cards and three sets of car keys.
Each of the accused used the stolen keys to steal a different car.
Rodger admitted driving without a licence or insurance, and failing to stop for uniformed officer Sergeant Brian Moran in Burdiehouse Square.
He also admitted breaking his curfew to remain inside his home in Restalrig Drive between 7pm and 7am on March 9, 10 and 11, and carrying out the offences while on bail.
Fellow gang member Colley also pleaded guilty to breaking into a house in Silverknowes Road East on March 12, then attempting to steal a car outside.
After breaking into the home in Davidson’s Mains with Rodger and Tant the following day, Colley drove at 100mph, striking kerbs and running through red lights.
Colley, who had no licence or insurance, drove on the wrong side of the road without lights on, and headed towards a police car, forcing it to swerve before colliding with it.
As sparks were flung up from the wheel rims of the damaged car, he tried to flee again, swerving across the road before coming to a halt.
Meanwhile, Tant pleaded guilty to stealing a car after the break-in at Corbiehill Road with his cohorts, and driving without a licence or insurance.
Sheriff DWM McIntyre deferred sentence on the trio until June 26 for reports.
Criticisms and apologies in case mired in controversy
IN August of 2010 Simon San, 40, was forced out of his car in Lochend by a gang of youths, including Keir Rodger, who started rocking it.
He was then killed by a single punch from 16-year-old John Reid, who was sentenced to five years’ detention in October 2010 after admitting culpable homicide.
Mr San dropped his car keys which were grabbed by Michael Roberts, who tried to start the car.
Rodger, then 16, and Roberts, 16, pleaded guilty to carrying out an assault on Mr San by rocking his car and forcing him to leave the vehicle. Mr San’s family later blasted a decision to slash the pair’s sentences.
Last August, police publicly apologised for “significant failings” uncovered by a probe into its investigation. The inquiry found officers failed to record the killing as a hate crime despite a number of witnesses telling them the youths who attacked Mr San had referred to him as a “Chinky”.
35,000 freed unconditionally
figures released earlier this year showed more than 35,000 criminals had been freed unconditionally from Scotland’s prisons before completing their sentences since the SNP came to power in May 2007, promising to end automatic early release. Under the system, prisoners sentenced to four years or less are automatically freed after serving half their sentences.
The government said the number freed annually under automatic early release had reduced by more than a third since the SNP came to power.