Friday, May 14, 2010

Judge refuses to increase sentence for killer dad; community outraged (Fife, Scotland)

Dad ROBERT THOMSON was convicted in the stabbing deaths of his two children, and was jailed "for life." Seems Dad was angry that the mother wanted a divorce--you know, the usual abuser/control freak "triggers." However, judges have refused to raise the minimum jail sentence Dad must serve before applying for parole, so he could be out in as little as 17 years. The surviving mother and the community are outraged. And they have every right to be.

Outrage as sentence stands for killer father
By Craig Smith

MEMBERS of a Fife community stunned by Robert Thomson’s brutal murder of his two children two years ago have reacted with fury after appeal judges refused to increase the killer’s sentence.

Thomson (51) was jailed for life for the horrific killing of his daughter Michelle (25)—who suffered from learning difficulties—and son Ryan (7) at the family home in Buckhaven on May 3, 2008.

But judges at Edinburgh’s Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday rejected a Crown bid to raise the minimum jail sentence Thomson should serve before applying for parole, meaning the killer could potentially serve just 17 years.

Thomson’s estranged wife June, who discovered her children’s bodies at their home in Muiredge Cottages, was not at court yesterday but reacted angrily when the sentence was initially passed, saying, “They were just beautiful, gorgeous children.

“He stole their lives away.

“The sentence wasn’t long enough.

“He is just an evil, sick, nasty, horrible man. He is just full of pure evil and badness.”

While the former family home lies empty, yesterday’s news was met with shock by neighbours who will never forget the tragedy.

Agnes Cormack (59), who stays just yards from the house, said, “I thought he should have got longer because what he did was just vicious.

“OK, he had problems but he shouldn’t have taken it out on the kids and because it was proven beyond doubt he should go to jail for life.”

Dave Anderson (66), who lived locally at the time of the killings, said he believed a far more severe sentence should have been imposed.

He said, “He should be hung for what he’s done.

“Anybody that does that to people, especially a handicapped girl, is not fit to walk amongst mankind.

“The country is too lax in giving out punishment for things like that.”

And his wife Christine added, “Imagine going into a house and finding your bairns murdered—it’s just horrible.

“They should do something with the house because every time you walk past it you just think about what he did to those poor bairns.”

At yesterday’s hearing, advocate depute Alex Prentice argued the minimum sentence imposed by Lord Menzies—cut from 21 years to 17 because Thomson pleaded guilty—was far too low.

“The Crown position is that the judge erred,” said Mr Prentice.

“He did not take into account the brutal and merciless nature of the attack.

“Child murder might well attract a punishment part of 20 years and in this case we have a double murder in particularly brutal circumstances.”

However, defence QC Andrew Lamb said Lord Menzies explained his decision in a “very careful and thoughtful report” about the background.

Thomson could not explain why he committed the murders but had reached a point where he had cracked under the strain.

The lawyer added that Lord Menzies considered “the heinous nature of the offences” but his sentence had been “entirely appropriate.”

Lord Osborne, sitting with Lords Eassie and Malcom, ruled the deaths were “a domestic tragedy” and decided that the sentence imposed on digger driver Thomson was not unduly lenient.

Following yesterday’s events, Central Fife MSP Tricia Marwick was another who felt let down.

“I’m disappointed that the appeal judges have not increased the tariff,” she told The Courier.

“It was a particularly heinous crime and in my view it deserved the biggest sentence that could be awarded.

“I recognise that it is for the appeal judges to decide the sentence but it is one that I profoundly disagree with.”

When Thomson was jailed in October 2008 the court heard he had been showing signs of strain since splitting with his wife in March that year.

Mrs Thomson later claimed the vicious stabbings were an act of revenge because she had walked out and was demanding a £50,000 pay-off as part of a divorce to end their 27-year marriage.

Her daughter had been stabbed 12 times and her son suffered 14 stab wounds before Thomson turned the knife on himself in a botched suicide bid and also swallowed pills.

Thomson spent part of the time waiting for the case to come to court in the state hospital Carstairs.

Giving his response to the sentence, Chief Superintendent Alistair McKeen, who led the murder investigation, said last night, “As with all judicial processes, the appeal against sentence by Robert Thomson is a matter for the courts.”