21 years for man who raped and murdered pensioner in sheltered housing

 

A convicted sex offender who raped and murdered a vulnerable pensioner in her sheltered housing home has been jailed for at least 21 years.

Kevin Rooney attacked mother-of-five Rosina Sutherland, 74, after ransacking her property in the Longstone area of Edinburgh.

He raped her, repeatedly hit her on the head and body, compressed her throat and restricted her breathing during the fatal ordeal on October 29 last year.

Rooney, 26, fled the scene with almost £400, the keys to the property and the victim's walking stick.

He then went to a nearby pub where he used the cash to buy drinks for himself and strangers in the bar.

The killer later told police: "I've murdered someone. If you gie (give) us a fag I'll show you the body."

Rooney, who was on bail at the time of the offence, has 36 convictions spanning a decade. They include a 2004 conviction for lewd and libidinous practices against two boys under the age of 10.

He pleaded guilty to robbery, rape and murder earlier this week after two days of a trial at the High Court in Aberdeen.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lady Dorrian jailed Rooney for life, as required by law in murder cases.

She ordered him to spend a minimum of 21 years and four months behind bars.

Police branded Rooney's crime "shocking and depraved", after the sentence was passed.

The killer sat with his head in his hands as the details of his murderous act were revealed in court for the first time.

The court heard that, uninvited, Rooney entered Mrs Sutherland's house where she lived alone at some point after 4pm that day. She did not know him.

He ransacked her house, throwing treasured possessions such as family photographs on the floor. He also pulled the telephone cord apart, depriving her of a chance to contact the outside world.

Rooney then raped her, repeatedly struck her in the face, placed his hand over her mouth and nose, and compressed her throat, preventing her from breathing.

She died and was left partially clothed on the floor.

Rooney took around £380 from the house but left behind tracksuit trousers and top, his mobile phone and a library card in his name.

Advocate depute Alison Di Rollo told the court: "From there, the accused went to the Longstone Inn, a nearby public house, where he used the deceased's money to buy drinks for himself and strangers in the pub.

"He drank for some time at the bar, buying lager, cider and shots, playing pool and chatting to staff and customers.

"Throughout, he walked with a limp, and with the deceased's walking stick, telling one person whom he engaged in conversation that he had been shot in the leg while in the Armed Forces.

"The walking stick was noticeably too short for him. The accused is 6ft 3in tall and the deceased was 5ft 3in."

Unemployed Rooney was detained by police in the early hours of the following day, on an unrelated matter.

It was then that he told them: "I've murdered someone. If you gie (give) us a fag I'll show you the body."

Over the next few hours, he made a variety of comments to police, including: "I asked her for the time and pushed her. She was cold. I didn't mean it."

He also told officers: "I went to an old dear's house. I just wanted somewhere to stay. I killed her. I hit her a few times and suffocated her."

Police took him out to try to find the location but he was unable to direct them to the address.

Meanwhile, an alarm was eventually activated at the victim's house after it recorded no activity in the home.

After failed attempts to contact her, Mrs Sutherland's son-in-law was informed and he went round to the house. There, he found her body and the emergency services were called.

Rooney later told police: "Hopefully I'll die cos I'm not doing 15 years for murder. I'm not going to get bail for murder, am I? It was an accident."

When police were alerted to the discovery of Mrs Sutherland's body, the property in Longstone Park was secured as a crime scene and forensic work began. Rooney's DNA was later found on swabs taken from the pensioner's body.

A post-mortem examination found Mrs Sutherland had blunt-force head injuries, suggesting she was punched repeatedly before death.

When Rooney was detained on suspicion of murder, he told police: "I would never steal off an old woman."

He also laughed when asked about the sex attack, and said: "I've got two personalities, I can't help it."

The prosecutor told the court that the victim, who had various medical ailments, lived a quiet, private life that revolved around her family and her cat. She was extremely close to her two sons and three daughters.

Ms Di Rollo said: "The family of Rosina Sutherland has been devastated by this offence and the circumstances of the loss of their much-loved mother.

"Not knowing exactly how much she suffered and imagining what she went through in her final moments has been almost impossible for them to bear."

Defence QC Gordon Jackson said Rooney had taken a "number of substances", and was wandering about when he tried the victim's door for reasons which were unclear.

The lawyer said: "He said to me all the way through events, when he was anxious during the trial, that he found it was difficult because of, in his words, the hell that the family were going through."

Judge Lady Dorrian told Rooney his crime had many aggravating factors, such as his previous convictions, which included sex offences, and breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

She said: "It's aggravated by the fact that you were on bail at the time. It's aggravated by the fact that it took place in the victim's own home, she being a vulnerable elderly lady living in sheltered accommodation; that you pulled apart the telephone cord; that you violently raped her and that you robbed and ransacked her house."

But for the plea of guilty, which came after some family members had given evidence, Rooney would have been jailed for at least 22 years, the judge said.

Detective Superintendent Alan Crawford, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "This was a shocking and depraved crime and my thoughts at this time are with Rosina Sutherland's family, who have been put through a harrowing ordeal as a result of Kevin Rooney's actions.

"I would like to pay tribute to them for the courage they have shown, and in particular for the assistance they provided officers investigating Rosina's murder.

"It is my sincere hope that they can draw some comfort from the conviction and sentencing of Kevin Rooney for this horrendous crime."

Mrs Sutherland's relatives made no comment at the end of the hearing.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson said Rooney had taken a "number of substances", and was wandering about when he tried the victim's door for reasons which were unclear.

The lawyer said: "He said to me all the way through events, when he was anxious during the trial, that he found it was difficult because of, in his words, the hell that the family were going through."

Judge Lady Dorrian told Rooney his crime had many aggravating factors, such as his previous convictions, which included sex offences, and breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

She said: "It's aggravated by the fact that you were on bail at the time. It's aggravated by the fact that it took place in the victim's own home, she being a vulnerable elderly lady living in sheltered accommodation; that you pulled apart the telephone cord; that you violently raped her and that you robbed and ransacked her house."

But for the plea of guilty, which came after some family members had given evidence, Rooney would have been jailed for at least 22 years, the judge said.

Detective Superintendent Alan Crawford, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "This was a shocking and depraved crime and my thoughts at this time are with Rosina Sutherland's family, who have been put through a harrowing ordeal as a result of Kevin Rooney's actions.

"I would like to pay tribute to them for the courage they have shown, and in particular for the assistance they provided officers investigating Rosina's murder.

"It is my sincere hope that they can draw some comfort from the conviction and sentencing of Kevin Rooney for this horrendous crime."

Mrs Sutherland's relatives made no comment at the end of the hearing.

Michelle MacLeod, High Court procurator fiscal for the east of Scotland, said the attack was one of the most distressing that prosecutors have had to deal with.

"Kevin Rooney has pleaded guilty to cowardly, brutal and callous crimes," she said.

"He entered the home of an elderly woman, subjecting her to a violent sexual assault before murdering her and, by the efforts of police and prosecutors, he has now been brought to justice.

"His crimes are among the most appalling and distressing that we have dealt with as prosecutors.

"I am grateful to the police and prosecution team for the positive and just outcome of the case. I would also pay tribute to the victim's family for the dignified way in which they have dealt with these appalling crimes."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test