Murder victim’s family in emotional plea to Justice Secretary for answers

Craig McClelland (left) was stabbed to death. Picture: Contributed/TSPL
Craig McClelland (left) was stabbed to death. Picture: Contributed/TSPL
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The family of a father-of-three murdered by a criminal who was unlawfully at large have said they are “still in the dark” over why he was free to kill.

Craig McClelland, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, was stabbed to death in his home town by James Wright, who had been released from jail on a home detention curfew with an electronic tag.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf pledges to learn lessons from early release killing

Having tampered with his tag, Wright had been unlawfully at large for six months when he murdered the 31-year-old in July 2017.

Mr McClelland’s family do not feel the police and prison inspectorate reviews commissioned by the Scottish Government have given them the necessary answers about why his killer was on the streets and want a public inquiry to prevent any more families suffering their heartbreak.

In a letter to Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Mr McClelland’s partner Stacey and his dad Michael said: “We regret that the answers we desperately seek were not forthcoming in the reviews your government commissioned.

“As a family, we are still in the dark as to why Craig’s murderer was free when he should have been behind bars. It still makes no sense to us.

“Further to that, we feel there is now a rush to draw the matter to a close when those responsible for these mistakes have yet to be held to account and the changes to the system required to prevent this happening again have not been made.

“In your statement to the Scottish Parliament, you praised our ‘tireless campaigning’ and insisted the home detention curfew system is ‘stronger, more robust’ as a consequence.

“This is credit we cannot accept. As far as we are concerned, we have not been ‘campaigning’ and are not satisfied the system you refer to is fit for purpose.”

They add: “Our only chance of moving on from our tragedy is to learn why these mistakes were made and ensure they will never happen again.

“We owe this to Craig, and we owe it to families all over Scotland.”

Raising their concerns at First Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Neil Bibby said the family does not have confidence lessons have been learned.

“Two reviews have indicated that there were significant failures but were not specifically tasked at looking at what went wrong in this case,” he said.

“The McClelland family now believe that only a full public inquiry will give them the answers they deserve. Can the First Minister give them her support?”

Nicola Sturgeon said Mr McClelland’s murder was “awful” and she is not surprised the family is still seeking answers.

She said the reviews looked at the processes leading to Wright being released and actions taken to apprehend him, making 37 recommendations which the government has accepted.

Immediate action was taken to strengthen home detention curfew safeguards, she said, including a presumption against granting curfews to people convicted of violence or knife crime.

“Lessons have been learned from this dreadful, tragic case,” the First Minister added.

She said Mr Yousaf would be happy to meet with the family again and discuss what actions they feel are appropriate.

The Liberal Democrats have also backed calls for an inquiry.