Scots aim to keep killers in custody

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND'S COALITION administration plans to rush through emergency legislation within the next two weeks to block the loophole which enabled the psychopathic killer Noel Ruddle to walk free.

The move follows the public and political outcry that greeted the release of Ruddle, who killed his neighbour with a Kalashnikov rifle eight years ago, from Scotland's state hospital at Carstairs, in Lanarkshire. A court ruled that as he was not receiving treatment he could no longer be detained. The row intensified after Ruddle's release, over whether other dangerous patients could use the same loophole.

A Mental Health Bill will be published next Wednesday, and ministers hope to have it on the statute book within 10 days. "The timetable we are setting will ensure that the Bill is in place before any further relevant appeals are determined," said the Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace. "We are determined to ensure that, when the courts come to consider similar cases, they can take full account of public safety."

Exact details of the legislation were not disclosed after today's cabinet meeting, but the Bill is thought to involve giving courts the power to consider public safety in such cases. It was also pointed out that the emergency legislation is intended only to block the Ruddle loophole, and the wider issue of legislation covering "restricted" patients is being reviewed by a committee.

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