Bradley Welsh murder: Law change could allow funeral within days

Tributes have been paid to Bradley who was known for his community work. Picture: TSPL
Tributes have been paid to Bradley who was known for his community work. Picture: TSPL
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Bradley Welsh’s grieving family and friends could be able to say their final farewells within days, thanks to a change in the law.

New rules on post-mortem examinations have been introduced in Scotland in a bid to prevent families facing long waits to bury their loved ones.

The body of anyone who dies in suspicious circumstances is only released to relatives after a post-mortem is carried out by a pathologist.

In the past, defence lawyers have also been able to request their own examination - in an attempt to glean fresh evidence on behalf of their client - which caused lengthy delays before any funeral could be held.

But multiple post-mortems will now only be allowed if absolutely necessary under the new law, which was introduced last November, and they are rarely required in deaths by shooting.

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Former boxer Welsh, 48, was blasted once in the head at point-blank range on the steps to his basement flat in Edinburgh’s West End last Wednesday evening.

He was given emergency first aid by a neighbour but could not be saved by paramedics called to the scene.

Under the old law, his body could have lain in a mortuary until a suspect was identified, traced and brought to court with the right to instruct their own examination.

The updated code of practice for forensic pathologists was issued by Lord Advocate James Wollfe following a review of the previous guidelines.

That review was launched after relatives of Shaun Woodburn, who was killed in Edinburgh in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2017, spoke of the “barbaric” treatment they faced while waiting to be allowed to bury him.

Shaun was 30 when he died after being attacked by a teenager outside Gladstone’s pub in Leith at the hands of a thug teenager.

His killer had earlier carried out a string assaults on other members of the public and was sentenced to four years’ detention after being convicted of culpable homicide.

Shaun’s father, Kevin Woodburn, who campaigned tirelessly for the change, welcomed the announcement at the time and said was a “major step forward” and a sign that “common sense has prevailed”.

Speaking after meeting Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf at Holyrood, Mr Woodburn added: “We were 18 days (before Sean’s body was released) which at the time was horrendous for us, but there’s a lot of other people who’ve suffered a lot more.

“It has been called Shaun’s Law, and to have that going forward as a legacy in his name is just a fantastic thing, not just for us as a family but for his young daughter.”