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Sentencing of Glasgow child abuse ring delayed for another three months

A judge has told the child abusers they face “very substantial” jail terms for “extraordinary depravity”

Amy-Clare Martin
Crime Correspondent
Tuesday 09 January 2024 12:08 GMT
Child abusers (top left-right) Iain Owens, Elaine Lannery, Lesley Williams, Barry Watson, (bottom left-right) Scott Forbes, Paul Brannan, John Clark.
Child abusers (top left-right) Iain Owens, Elaine Lannery, Lesley Williams, Barry Watson, (bottom left-right) Scott Forbes, Paul Brannan, John Clark. (James Chapelard for The Independent)

The sentencing of members of a drug-addled abuse ring which held “rape nights” and put a child in a microwave has been delayed again, for another three months.

Children were subjected to a horrifying campaign of abuse at several Glasgow locations, including a drugs den where heroin and crack cocaine was used which became known as the “beasty house” by victims.

In November seven members of the ring were found guilty of abusing children in crimes described as plunging the “depths of human depravity”, in which they were given with drugs and alcohol and subjected to group attacks.

Iain Owens, 45, Elaine Lannery, 39, Lesley Williams, 41, Paul Brannan, 41, Scott Forbes, 50, Barry Watson, 47, and John Clark, 46, were all found guilty of rape and sexual assault.

Over a two-month trial at Glasgow High Court last year, jurors heard horrifying details of their crimes, including the attempted murder of a girl who was put in a microwave, forced to eat dog food, and hung by her clothes from a nail, as well as being chased by people wearing a devil mask on various occasions between 2015 and 2019.

Owens, Lannery, Williams and Brannan were also found guilty of attempted murder, however Clark was acquitted of the charge.

Iain Owens at the High Court in Glasgow (James Chapelard )

Judge Lord Beckett last week warned the abusers they faced of “very substantial” jail terms for “extraordinary depravity”, after revealing he was considering if an order for lifelong restriction should be imposed.

On Tuesday Lord Beckett further adjourned the case until 5 April but said there could be further delays.

He said: “It is not certain that it will be possible to deal with this on 5 April. There’s a distinct possibility because of the nature of the task faced by risk assessors that there will be further delays.”

An order for lifelong restriction monitors high-risk offenders for the rest of their lives if they are deemed suitable for release from prison after serving a minimum punishment period.

Criteria considered include if the abusers would potentially “seriously endanger the lives or physical or psychological wellbeing of the public at large”.

Elaine Lannery at the High Court in Glasgow (James Chapelard )

An eighth member of the group, Marianne Gallagher, 38, was convicted of assaulting a child who said they were punched, kicked and had a plastic bag put over their head, but cleared of all other charges. Her sentence has been deferred until 6 January 2025.

A further three people — Mark Carr, 49, Richard Gachagan, 45, and Leona Laing, 50 — were acquitted of all counts.

Jurors heard how five of the group made one child dress in lingerie and “dance in a sexualised manner” on various occasions between 1 October 2018 and 19 June 2019, before she was raped by male members of the group.

Instead of intervening to protect the youngsters, the women clapped, cheered and encouraged the abuse, with some filming the attack, the court heard.

Owens, Williams and Brannan were also found guilty of drugs offences for supplying diamorphine and cocaine.

An allegation that the group used an Ouija board to “call on spirits and demons” causing the child victims to “believe that they could see, hear and communicate with spirits and demons” and making them take part in “witchcraft” was dropped part way through the trial.

Marianne Gallagher, 38, had her sentenced deffered at the High Court in Glasgow after being found guilty of assaulting a child. She was cleared of all other charges. (PA)

Judge Lord Beckett told the abusers to expect a “very substantial prison sentence” for the “grave and repeated” crimes. He said the “common denominator” for seven of the defendants was the abuse of a “very young child”.

“The common denominator was the repeated sexual assault of a very young child, payment was sought and accepted, some of the events were filmed. This extraordinary depravity was repeated on a number of occasions.

“All the sex offences are of extreme gravity and accompanied for some of you by attempted murder,” Lord Beckett said.

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