Kenny MacAskill: World’s End murders spurred me to abolish double jeopardy

Morain Scott with a photograph of his murdered daughter Helen Scott (Picture: Danny Lawson)
Morain Scott with a photograph of his murdered daughter Helen Scott (Picture: Danny Lawson)
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Like most I wish no one dead but like everyone I shed no tears for Angus Sinclair. Wicked and depraved, it’s certain that he was guilty of even more murders.

As a student, I felt the shock waves of fear and revulsion that rippled through Edinburgh with the World’s End murders.

Little did I know that 30 years later, as Justice Secretary, I’d meet with the families of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott when the legal system so badly failed them.

It was early in my tenure when a calamitous error by the Crown saw the case dismissed, with the Lord Advocate making a statement to Parliament.

Meanwhile, I met with the victims’ families, some of whom were also constituents. They were understandably distraught and angry.

It had taken decades for Sinclair to be caught and then it looked as if he might evade punishment. I vowed to them that everything possible would be done to achieve justice and closure for them.

READ MORE: Angus Sinclair dead: World’ End killer dies in prison

I met Morain Scott many times over coming years as he pursued justice for his daughter and our paths also crossed at football matches. He was a lovely man who bore his tragic loss with great dignity and fortitude but he remained determined and that spurred me on.

The court debacle resulted in legislation that eventually brought justice not just for those families but for others. For the fallout from it saw long overdue changes made to Scots Law.

The absurdity that the defence could appeal but not the Crown was ended. Likewise, evidence of similar fact was allowed which would be of great benefit in the conviction of another serial killer, Peter Tobin.

But, most importantly, it saw double jeopardy ended, allowing for justice for those poor girls.

Driving through the bill, Morain was forever in my thoughts, and I met him when it passed and recall his continued hopes that justice would at last be done.

It was and he lived to see it done, though sadly not his wife.

If there’s any redeeming feature from the World’s End debacle, it’s that Morain has ensured justice for many more families.

READ MORE: World’s End killer Angus Sinclair ‘certainly murdered’ more girls – lead investigator