Paedophile convicted of girl's rape and murder 22 years on

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The Independent Online

A convicted child killer and paedophile was given a life sentence yesterday for the rape and murder of a teenage girl more than 22 years ago.

Angus Sinclair, 56, was found guilty of strangling Mary Gallacher, 17, on the basis of DNA evidence linking him to one of Britain's longest unsolved murders.

About 40 members of Miss Gallacher's family and friends screamed as the jury foreman gave a majority verdict at the High Court in Glasgow. Sinclair sat impassively and stared only at the judge. Later, Sinclair was revealed to have been convicted of the unlawful killing of a seven-year-old girl in 1961, for which he served six years.

He is currently serving a life sentence for three rapes and a number of other sexual offences, for which he was convicted in 1982. Sinclair is believed to be among a handful of Scottish prisoners serving an indeterminate life sentence for his crimes.

Miss Gallacher, the eldest of six children, was last seen by her mother, Catherine, when she left home in Glasgow to meet a friend. Her body was found on waste ground near a footbridge at Barnhill railway station in the city on 20 November 1978.

The court was told that Sinclair removed the girl's clothing and strangled her with the leg of her trousers before raping her. He then slit her throat.

The original murder investigation failed to find her killer. Not until the inquiry reopened in 1997 was Sinclair identified as a suspect.

In 1999, police retested a sample of body hair taken from the dead girl at her post-mortem examination. The DNA was eventually matched with that of Sinclair, whose profile was one of hundreds of thousands contained in the National DNA database. Forensic scientists said it was beyond doubt that the man who committed the sexual attack was the same man who murdered Miss Gallacher.

Judge Lord Carloway told Sinclair: "This crime was a callous, brutal and depraved act on a young girl for which there is only one sentence which I am allowed to pass in law, and that is one of imprisonment for life."