Widow blasts ‘early release candidate’ claim from judge

THE widow of a man who was stabbed to death during a row over a chocolate bar today hit out at a judge for describing the woman who sparked the fight as an “obvious candidate for early release” from prison.

Monday, 28th May 2012, 1:06 pm

Chanelle Barrett has lost her appeal against a nine-year sentence she received following the murder of William McPhee in Gilmerton last January.

But after throwing out her bid for a reduced jail term, Lord Carloway said that the court was “impressed” with Barrett’s efforts at rehabilitation, which include training to become a hairdresser while behind bars.

Mr McPhee’s widow, Roseanne, 40, told the News that it was “ridiculous” that the appeal court judge considered Barrett such a likely prospect for early release.

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Lawyers for Barrett, who was 19 at the time of the murder, contended that their client’s “troubled background” caused by her father’s heroin addiction should have been taken into account during sentencing.

They claimed that Barrett had a “chaotic lifestyle” when the killing took place, and the jail term she was handed was “excessive”.

The Appeal Court in Edinburgh also heard that Barrett had “thrown herself fully into prison life” since being jailed in the hope that she will be “far stronger a person on her release”.

Mr McPhee, 43, was killed with a “Rambo-like sword” because he and best friend Colin Stewart, 41, bought a small bar of chocolate instead of a big one for fellow drinker Barrett.

Barrett phoned her boyfriend, William McArdle, 25, who came to the Castleview House high-rise in Craigour Place and stabbed Mr McPhee to death.

McArdle was convicted of his murder while Barrett was convicted of assaulting Mr McPhee last January 11. Both were found guilty of the attempted murder of Mr Stewart.

Mrs McPhee, who has terminal cancer, said: “I think it’s ridiculous that the judge said she was an ‘obvious candidate’ to get out early. If it wasn’t for her then my husband would still be alive today. She should serve the whole sentence as far as I’m concerned.

“I’ll never get over losing my husband and she’s trying to get out of prison already. I don’t think she will change after what she did.

“I’m glad that she lost the appeal against the nine years. It was her fault my husband died.”

Lord Carloway rejected the appeal, pointing out the central role Barrett played in the incident which led to Mr McPhee being murdered.

The court heard that Barrett had “enlisted” her boyfriend to attack Mr McPhee, and had “not just been a participant but a significant driving force” to the murder while herself behaving in a “significantly violent manner”.

McArdle was sentenced to life in prison last October, with a recommendation that he serve 22 years.