• STV
  • MySTV

Paedophiles who murdered woman and dumped her body at sea appeal life sentences

Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan were jailed for life with a minimum of 56 years for killing Allison McGarrigle in 1997.

Appeal: O'Neill (left) and Lauchlan were found guilty of murdering Allison McGarrigle.

Two paedophile cousins who murdered a woman and dumped her body at sea have been given permission to appeal their life sentences.

Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan were jailed for life with a minimum of 56 years for killing Allison McGarrigle in 1997.

The pair, described as "evil, determined and manipulative paedophiles of the worst sort" by trial judge Lord Pentland, were convicted of several counts of child abuse that took place after they killed Mrs McGarrigle.

They strangled mother-of-three Mrs McGarrigle at Waterside Street in Largs, Ayrshire, on June 21, 1997, before hiding her body in a wheelie bin, which they then dumped at sea from a boat. They believed that she was going to inform the police of their abuse of a young boy.

The 39-year-old’s body has never been found, although in 2005 she was declared dead and the paedophiles were charged.

On Wednesday, Lord Hodge confirmed in a decision at the Court of Criminal Appeal that both O’Neill and Lauchlan were to be given leave to appeal the punishment part of the life terms.

In his opinion, the judge found that the appeal should be allowed as it was "arguable."

O’Neill, the more "dominant personality" in the pair, was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years. Lord Hodge allowed him to appeal this after his counsel submitted that the trial judge erred in fixing the punishment part of the life sentence as it had "historically been reserved for murders of the most horrific kind, including multiple killings and killing by firearms."

At the end of the original trial in 2010, Lauchlan was given a minimum of 26 years, four years less than his cousin, as O’Neill was also convicted of drugging and abusing a 14-year-old boy in June 2003 in a house in Irvine.

Both O’Neill and Lauchlan have been granted leave to argue for an appeal against their murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice convictions on the basis of possible misdirection of the jury when a police officer was asked for his opinion in court on an expert report about whether Mrs McGarrigle was alive.

As this was not expert opinion, Lord Hodge found that the detective’s evidence during the original trial "properly admissible" and allowed the pair to continue with an appeal against their murder conviction.

Both of the killers have been given leave to appeal against a string of sexual abuse convictions after Lauchlan was refused a no case to answer plea at the trial in 2010, as he argued the evidence against him was "circumstantial".

This includes attempting to sexually abuse a 15-year-old boy in Alfaz del Pi, in Benidorm, Spain, after the pair, who were also lovers, had moved there and set up a window cleaning business.

The paedophiles were arrested and initially held in a Spanish jail they did not face further prosecution. They were deported to the UK and jailed in Scotland for breaching their parole.

Once they were released in 2007, they set up home in Blackpool and had to register as sex offenders with Lancashire Police.

Detectives in England were so worried about the possibility of Lauchlan and O’Neill re-offending they put them under round-the-clock surveillance and bugged their van.

On Wednesday Lord Hodge confirmed, the pair have been refused an appeal against grooming and sexually abusing a six-year-old boy in a hotel in Falkirk.

They were arrested after English police found that O’Neill and Lauchlan had placed more than 2000 calls with the boy’s mother to arrange a meet up.

Before they were found guilty of murder, Lauchlan and O’Neill were convicted of 31 charges of indecent assault and drug offences in 1998.

O’Neill, a former professional boxer, was sentenced to eight years in prison while Lauchlan was jailed for six years. They had lured children aged between nine and 15 to a house in Skelmorlie, Ayrshire, where they gave them drugs and alcohol before molesting them.

Their appeal will be heard in full at a later date.

IN DETAIL

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.