Paedophiles jailed for killing informant

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Two paedophiles were jailed for life yesterday for murdering a lodger after she threatened to reveal that they were abusing a young boy.

Charles O'Neill, 47, was ordered to serve at least 30 years and his lover William Lauchlan, 33, a minimum of 26 years for killing Allison McGarrigle and dumping her body at sea in 1997. They were also jailed for 10 years each for sexually abusing boys aged six and 14, having been found guilty last month at the same court.

Sentencing the pair at the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Pentland said: "It is clear you are both dangerous and determined predatory paedophiles and you now represent a high risk to the safety of the public."

Lauchlan and O'Neill believed Mrs McGarrigle, with whom they shared a flat, intended to tell the authorities they had sexually abused a boy for three years beforehand. Fearing they would be caught, they strangled her and hid her body beneath rocks on Largs beach in Ayrshire, then put it in a wheelie bin, took it on to a boat and dumped it at sea. Her remains have never been found.

During the trial, the court heard from a witness who said O'Neill told him Mrs McGarrigle was "feeding the fishes" and pointed to the Firth of Clyde. The pair denied murder, with O'Neill claiming it must have been committed by another man.

Last month at the same court, O'Neill was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a boy of 14 in 2003. Both were also found guilty of abusing a 14-year-old boy in Spain in 2004 and grooming a six-year-old boy for sex between December 2007 and March 2008.

Mrs McGarrigle's son, Robert, said he was "over the moon" with the sentence. He said: "Allison McGarrigle was a bubbly, happy woman with a heart of gold. She loved children and she was taken away from us trying to protect a young boy from abuse. For many years, we have had to live with not knowing what happened to her, but we knew she was not missing."

The judge sentenced Lauchlan and O'Neill to eight years each for trying to defeat the ends of justice, and 10 years for each of the sexual abuse charges, all to run concurrently.

There were whispers of "yes" from the public gallery as the verdicts were read out and calls of "beasts" as the pair were led to the cells.