Judges refuse World’s End killer Angus Sinclair sentence appeal

Angus Sinclair has had his bid to have his sentence for the World's End murders of two teenage girls in the 1970s reduced.  Pic Neil Hanna
Angus Sinclair has had his bid to have his sentence for the World's End murders of two teenage girls in the 1970s reduced. Pic Neil Hanna

SERIAL killer Angus Sinclair has failed in an attempt to have his sentence reduced for the murders of two teenage girls in the 1970s.

Sinclair, 70, was jailed for life and told he must serve at least 37 years – the longest minimum jail term ever imposed by a Scottish court – after he was convicted in 2014 of raping and murdering Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, both 17.

They were killed after a night out at Edinburgh’s World’s End pub in October 1977, with their bodies being discovered the following day in East Lothian.

Sinclair was found guilty of the crimes after a five-week trial. On sentencing, judge Lord Matthews said Sinclair was a “dangerous predator, who is capable of sinking to the depths of depravity”.

The conviction brought to a conclusion one of Scotland’s most infamous unsolved cases and marked the first prosecution since changes to the country’s double jeopardy law.

The legal change meant Sinclair – who has been in prison since the 1980s – could be retried after the court case against him collapsed seven years previously.

Last year, Sinclair dropped an appeal against the conviction but continued in a bid to have the term reduced, arguing it was “excessive”.

• READ MORE: World’s End killer secures legal aid for appeal

A hearing was held in November, but judges have now refused the appeal, meaning the punishment part of Sinclair’s sentence will stand.

Among the submissions from Sinclair’s legal team was the question of whether 37 years was “necessary, appropriate and fell within the judge’s discretion”.

They also argued about whether or not some of his earlier convictions should have been taken into account in determining the punishment part of the sentence, as they were events which came after the 1977 murders.

Lady Paton, Lady Clark and Lord Malcolm delivered their opinion in a written judgment published yesterday.

Christine and Helen were targeted by Sinclair and his brother-in-law Gordon Hamilton, who is now dead, on a night-out at the World’s End pub on 15 October,1977.

Their bodies were discovered the following day, having been dumped in remote locations. They had been raped, strangled and tied up.

Sinclair denied the charges and claimed the girls consented to have sex with him. He blamed Hamilton, who died in 1996. However, DNA analysis proved Sinclair had touched the ligatures used to tie the girls up.

Jurors – who took less than two-and-a-half hours to find Sinclair guilty of the 1977 crimes – were unaware he had already spent more than half of his life in prison.

He was just 16 when he strangled a seven-year-old girl to death in Glasgow in 1961 and in 1982 he was convicted of a string of sex attacks on young girls, including rape.

While still in prison, he was given a life sentence in 2001 for the murder of Mary Gallacher, 17, who was raped and stabbed in Glasgow in 1978.

Speaking after the ruling, a Crown Office spokesman said: “We note the decision of the appeal court. This brings to an end the long wait for justice for the families of Helen and Christine.