Nicola Sturgeon vows to aid Shaun Woodburn family in fight for justice

NICOLA Sturgeon has vowed to aid the family of tragic Shaun Woodburn in their fight for justice.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 8:09 am
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 8:15 am
The First Minister has told the Woodburn family that she will look into the case further.

The First Minister and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson attended a private meeting yesterday with Shaun’s dad Kevin, mum Denise Syme and grandad Oliver.

Shaun Woodburn died in an attack on New Year’s Day last year, his 17-year-old killer jailed for 4 years - a sentence the Woodburn family feel was far too lenient.

During the three-hour meeting at the Scottish Parliament, Sturgeon offered to support the family in their bid to gain answers over the handling of the case.

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“The meeting went very well,” said Kevin Woodburn, “She did say from the outset she could not talk about the specifics of Shaun’s case as the Government cannot intervene on matters relating to criminal cases.

“But she said she had been reading about Shaun’s story and his death was an absolute tragedy for his family and friends.

“She said she understood if she was in the same position she would 100 per cent do what we were doing and seek answers to the many questions we have.

“I told her we were perplexed about why if there is an age of criminal responsibility for juveniles why are they then treated like children in the courts when it comes to sentencing?

“I wanted to make the point in general terms there was no deterrent to juvenile crime, specifically of a more serious nature such as culpable homicide if the punishment does not fit the crime.

“She said juvenile crime, while a small minority, is a concern for everybody but she understood our position on it absolutely.

“I pointed out to her that the minority would become the majority if there was no clear punishments being handed down by the courts.”

He added: “I told her and Mr Matheson that certain parts of the justice system are medieval. For example, the automatic right of a second post mortem for the defence.

“We were told before the results of Shaun’s first post mortem that a second one would be carried out by independent practitioners. Why is it done in this way? There are no real grounds to it at all.

“It adds to the pain and heartache of a family already going through hell.

“I told them both I understand the need for the defence to have their own reports, but why can’t this be done at the same time with representatives from the Crown and the defence to minimise the horrendous situation for a family going through this?

“There is a lack of sensitivity towards the families of victims and this must be addressed.

“There was a lot of discussion about the morality of the trial process, as opposed to the legalities of a trial.

“Nicola seemed interested in a lot of the human side of the process and how victims’ families are treated. She did show great empathy on those points.”

Shaun’s mum Denise added: “I can’t fault the police at all. They kept us informed as to what was happening but when it was handed to the Crown, that’s when it all fell apart.

“I couldn’t attend the trial. I didn’t feel I could listen to it and go through that so I was appointed a liaison officer. But trying to get information from the Crown was very difficult.

“A lot of what we found out came from other avenues such as the media.

“Ordinary people are going through a trial and they should be kept up to date with things, but they’re not.

“There are many failings with the way victims and their families are treated. Nicola seemed very sympathetic to this.”