Outcry as abused wife is convicted

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The Independent Online
A CAMPAIGN seeking "justice" for a woman convicted of murdering her policeman husband was launched last night. Kim Galbraith, 30, claimed that she had shot her sleeping husband because he had subjected her to years of sexual torture, but she was found guilty and jailed for life yesterday.

Mairead Tagg, a Glasgow women's abuse expert and psychologist who gave evidence for the defence at Galbraith's trial, said justice had not been done by the verdict - and claimed it would discourage abused women elsewhere from coming forward.

"If this is the law, then it is not justice," said Dr Tagg outside the High Court in Glasgow. "What Kim suffered was brutal and sadistic abuse by a partner which pushed her to the edge and beyond."

Galbraith had admitted killing her husband, Ian Galbraith, 37, with a rifle at their cottage in Furnace, Argyll, but denied it was murder. Her lawyers had sought conviction on the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

She wept as the jury of 11 men and 4 women at Glasgow High Court returned a majority verdict at the end of a three-week trial. Lord Osborne, the trial judge, told her: "Parliament has prescribed that the only sentence I can impose in the circumstances now considering the verdict of the jury is one of life imprisonment." The sentence was backdated to 14 January this year, the day she was first taken into custody.

As Galbraith was led from the dock, her sobbing mother, comforted by her husband, called out to her daughter: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

The trial had been told that Galbraith shot dead her burly 6ft 6in husband as he slept in their bedroom at Sandhole Cottage in Furnace on the night of 13 January.

Police received a 999 call from the hysterical-sounding Galbraith, saying that masked intruders had burst into the house and killed her husband, and that one of them had raped her.

But, questioned further that day by police, she confessed, and claimed she had killed him in desperation, after years of sexual abuse that included being forced to have sexual intercourse in a dog kennel.

After creating disorder in the house to prepare the ground for a cover story, she went upstairs, lay behind her husband and killed him with a single shot to the head from his rifle. She said that she had considered shooting herself, but had been unable to do so because of their baby daughter, Lauren.

Galbraith claimed that her husband had forced her to perform sex acts with prostitutes, and that on occasions she had been shackled to the bed with her husband's handcuffs. In a taped police interview, she said: "I should have run away, but I knew he would find me, because he's a policeman."

In her evidence Dr Tagg compared Galbraith's husband to Fred West. "Kim Galbraith has been the victim of horrifying sexual and physical abuse. As a direct result, she has suffered profound psychological trauma," she said. However, Dr Tagg admitted that she had come to this conclusion after only one meeting with Galbraith.

Doubt was also cast on her claims that her husband had collected Nazi memorabilia. Galbraith's lawyer, Donald Findlay QC, showed the court a book with pictures of Hitler, but Mr Galbraith's friends said that the material did not relate to the man they knew.

About 30 women have now formed a campaign group called Justice for Kim.

A spokeswoman for the group said: "The jury's decision to convict Kim of murder shows a complete lack of understanding of the process of domestic abuse and its effects on women and children.

"Kim suffered years of torture and shot her husband when she felt she had no other way out."

She said more needed to be done help victims of domestic violence, and added: "The fact that the majority of women killed are still killed by their current or former partners illustrates that society need to do much more."

She called for letters and cards of support to be sent to Galbraith in prison, and called for adequate services to be put in place for women and children escaping violence.