Family of Michelle Stewart appeal to Humza Yousaf: ‘Don’t release my sister’s killer back into our lives’

Kenny Stewart (right) with his son Steven during a press conference at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Kenny Stewart (right) with his son Steven during a press conference at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Pic: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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The sister of a young woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend has appealed to justice secretary Humza Yousaf to stop the jailed killer being “released back into our lives”.

Michelle Stewart, 17, was stabbed to death in Drongan, Ayrshire, by John Wilson in 2008. In April 2009 he was given a life sentence, with a minimum of 12 years in prison, and was deemed eligible for temporary release last year.

The Stewarts have called for measures to improve the rights of victims and their families, including a larger say in the parole process.

In a letter to Mr Yousaf, Michelle’s sister, Lisa, claimed Wilson had been seen in Ayr while on temporary release, apparently without the knowledge of the local council.

She said: “We are now a year away from when John Wilson’s case will be prepared to be ready to submit for parole. We are no further forward to having had any sort of assurance from you with regards to him not being released back to the Ayrshire area.

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“We need to live with what he did to Michelle for the rest of our lives. We also need to live the rest of our lives without Michelle in it.

“John Wilson has the rest of his life ahead of him, to forget what he did to Michelle. He has never shown any remorse. It is not too much to ask that he be relocated outwith any proximity of Ayrshire.”

She added: “We would be grateful for a commitment from you that John Wilson will not be released back into our lives.”

The Conservatives accused the Scottish Government of “continuing to ignore” the concerns of victims.

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Liam Kerr, the Scottish Tory justice spokesman, said: “Hundreds of victims and their families are being ignored by the SNP. It is a scandal that, even now, the Stewart family is still being given inaccurate and contradictory information. The justice secretary keeps promising action, but we have seen nothing on temporary release.

“The SNP must make this a priority and include victims’ voices throughout our justice system immediately.”

The Scottish Government is currently holding a consultation seeking views about reform of the parole system.

Last month the Faculty of Advocates said the voice of victims and their families could be heard via a “personal statement” but said it was “difficult to see what would be gained” by victims or families attending parole board hearings.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Following the Michelle’s Law campaign, we established a victims taskforce which is considering how victims receive more timely information and have a stronger voice.

“We are currently analysing responses and will report our findings in due course.”