THE horrific killing of Thomas Lamb was a case which shocked the community.
Mr Lamb, well liked and entirely innocent, had his life taken away in a few minutes of senseless savage violence. For what? According to the police, the only motive appears to be an argument over a game of pool in the pub.
It now emerges one of his attackers was celebrating his early release from a sentence for violence and robbery on the night of the killing.
That will inevitably lead to fresh and understandable questions over the whole system of automatic early release.
Would staying in prison for another two-and-a-half years have made Watson less prone to carrying out a random act of brutal violence?
We will tragically never know, although the judge at his original trial presumably took into account his early release date at the time of sentence.
Perhaps the more pertinent questions to ask are what kind of rehabilitation did a man convicted of a violent act receive while in detention, and what assessment was carried out before he was allowed back on the streets? Could any more have been done to change this pattern of offending?
Senior officers say the three killers have “no place in society” and we have to agree.
They will today begin sentences of at least 20 years when they will have plenty of time to reflect on their actions.
But they will also, let’s remember, retain the prospect of an eventual release.
James Watson will be 47, his brother will be 49 while Gary Sim will be just 41 at the end of the sentence.
They will be free to enjoy life – a right they so cruelly robbed from Thomas Lamb.
We can only hope that, this time, prison works.