A murder victim’s son has criticised the Crown Office after it released a crime-scene photograph which showed his mother’s body.
Martin Cullen, who discovered the murder, said the image had caused great distress and he intends to make a formal complaint to the Crown Office over its failure to consult the family.
He accepts only people with knowledge of the crime scene would understand his mother’s body can be seen but questions why prosecutors did not consult with the family before releasing such sensitive photographs.
Graham McGill, 59, already a convicted rapist, was last month found guilty of the 1984 murder of Mary McLaughlin and was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 14 years on Tuesday. Mr Cullen, 61, said the family were disappointed at the length of the sentence, which came after they had endured a tortuous 37-year wait for justice.
Mr Cullen said: “I attended the sentencing in Aberdeen on Tuesday and, despite our family’s disappointment at the length of the sentence, I was reasonably OK afterwards.
“However, I checked on the internet a couple of hours afterwards and saw to my horror that the photos of the crime scene had been put out and were on various websites.
“They showed my mum’s body still lying on top of the bed where I found her. I accept it is not obvious what the photograph shows unless you knew the scene, but the point is we should have been consulted over the release of the photographs and were not.
“It was extremely upsetting to see this and caused great distress to myself and the rest of the family. They also released old pictures of my mum and I have no idea where they got them from. I could not believe they would release such sensitive photographs without checking with the family.
“If they had checked with us it would never have happened.”
We told last month how Mr Cullen had suffered nightmares for years after discovering the body of his mother when he went to check on her at her home in Partick, Glasgow, in October 1984.
McGill, 22 at the time, was on day release from HMP Edinburgh, serving six years for rape and assault with intent to rape, when he murdered Mary. He was jailed again in 1999 for attempting to rape a woman in her 20s.
Mr Cullen said: “Given his previous convictions, his murder of a woman in her own home and the length of time he evaded justice, we thought 14 years was a pretty pathetic sentence.”
The case was finally cracked thanks to the persistence of police and forensic scientists following a fifth review of evidence. Advances in science meant a DNA sample could finally be extracted from the knot of the ligature used to strangle Mary and the sample was matched to convicted sex offender McGill.
The Crown Office said: “We understand this has been an extremely difficult time for Mr Cullen and his family, and we extend our sincere condolences for their loss. A senior official from COPFS has met with Mr Cullen to discuss his concerns.”
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