Knife killer loses human rights compensation claim

Billy Brown was jailed for seven years. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly
Billy Brown was jailed for seven years. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly
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A KILLER has lost a brazen bid to claim compensation after insisting a lack of access to rehabilitation courses breached his human rights.

Billy Brown was locked up for seven years in 2006 after stabbing then fellow 17-year-old Steven Lennon in the heart with a lock-knife in a community garden in Sighthill.

Steven Lennon was stabbed in the heart. Picture: PA

Steven Lennon was stabbed in the heart. Picture: PA

Brown already had convictions for carrying knives and other weapons when he attacked Steven.

He pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and served four years in jail before being released in 2010.

But he was sent back to prison later that year after he stole a motor vehicle while under the influence of drink. He is now due to be released next month.

Brown – who was described by a judge as having an “unimpressive” attitude towards his rehabilitation – took the Scottish Government to court, claiming his human rights had been breached in jail.

The public are sick of dangerous criminals trying to take the justice system for a ride

Alex Johnstone

He argued that he had not been given access to courses recommended by the parole authorities.

The Court of Session in Edinburgh previously ruled against Brown in a judicial review and three judges have now rejected his appeal.

They said that even if Brown had been successful, he would only have pocketed £500 in compensation.

Politicians today accused the killer of attempting to con taxpayers out of cash and welcomed the judges’ decision.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “This is not what the Human Rights Act ought to be used for.

“The public are sick of dangerous criminals trying to take the justice system for a ride in this fashion.

“Anyone reading this would struggle to reach any conclusion other than this individual is at it. It’s welcome that his appeal has been unsuccessful.”

Steven’s death in 2005 came amid clashes between youths from rivals parts of west Edinburgh.

After Brown landed the fatal blow, his victim’s mother raced to the scene after being called by his friends.

She comforted him in the ambulance and held his hand as he passed away.

Brown’s lawyers claimed during the compensation bid that a decision by the Supreme Court in London in another case should lead to the appeal judges ruling in his favour.

It was argued that following his recall to prison, “the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Article 5 implied ancillary duty to facilitate rehabilitation and release would be engaged”.

But lawyers for the Scottish Government successfully maintained that the Supreme Court ruling applied to life prisoners and those serving indeterminate sentences, rather than those serving fixed terms.

Lady Clark of Calton, who heard the appeal with Lord Menzies and Lord McGhie, said Brown did have access to some rehabilitation work and added: “His response to rehabilitation and progress within the prison can be described as unimpressive.”

Earlier this month, “Limbs in the Loch” murderer William Beggs successfully argued that the Scottish Prison Service violated his human rights by opening confidential letters from the Information Commissioner.

newsen@edinburghnews.com