A SHOP owner has been jailed for at least 27 years for the murder of 15-year-old customer Paige Doherty in his back office.
John Leathem, 32, stabbed the teenager more than 60 times when she stopped at his Delicious Deli in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, on March 19, and he dumped her body in bushes two days later.
The married father-of-two was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow to life with a minimum term of 27 years on Thursday after pleading guilty to her murder at an earlier hearing.
The South Court was packed with Paige’s family and friends for the sentencing.
There were shouts of “scum” and “monster” as Leathem was led away to the cells.
In passing sentence, Judge Lady Rae said it was a “savage and frenzied” attack, and also described the killing as “truly reprehensible and impossible to comprehend”.
First offender Leathem attacked Paige in the back office of the Delicious Deli on the town’s Fleming Avenue shortly after 8.20am, apparently after a short exchange about a job.
A post-mortem examination found Paige suffered 61 stab wounds, mainly to her head and neck, and 85 further cuts thought to have been sustained as she tried to fight off her attacker.
Leathem was captured on CCTV carrying her body out of the shop in a bin bag and putting it in the boot of his car.
Footage also shows him leaving his shop to buy anti-bacterial wipes, bin bags and bleach.
He is understood to have stored Paige’s body in a shed at his nearby home over the weekend before driving to a wooded area off the A82 and dumping her body on the morning of Monday March 21, where she was discovered by a member of the public.
At the previous hearing, Lady Rae told him: “This was a savage, frenzied attack on a child.”
Leathem’s lawyer Ian Duguid QC said the murder was a “spontaneous, gross overreaction”.
He said Leathem claimed to have taken Paige into the back office to discuss a job application, where he says he told her he would have to speak to her mother due to her age and that there were other candidates for the position as a shop assistant.
Leathem claims Paige responded: “I thought I was getting a job,” before adding: “I’ll just say you touched me,” the court heard.
Paige was described by her grandmother as a “kind and selfless person and all-round good girl”.
Her family have said they will never get over what happened to the teenager.
The court heard how her mother Pamela Munro hears her daughter’s screams in her nightmares and stepfather Andrew said they could not get out of their heads “the terror that she must have experienced”.
Mr Duguid said reports showed his client had no anger management issues and wasa “quite unexceptional individual”.
He referred to his earlier statement during Leathem’s plea that a conversation about a job led to him being “frightened” at a perceived threat from Paige that she would say he “touched her inappropriately” if he did not give her a job.
Mr Duguid said: “That is no excuse for the way he behaved. It’s inexplicable.”
He added: “This is an individual who is acting so out of character. There is no explanation that can be found.”
Lady Rae referred to Leathem’s claims during her sentencing.
She said: “You claim… she threatened to reveal you had touched her inappropriately if you didn’t give her that job.
“No evidence has been placed before me to support this.
“Even if true, your reaction was in no way mitigating of this appalling, wicked crime.
“There is no evidence or motive to explain the ferocity of this attack.”
The judge added: “It is impossible to comprehend how an apparently happily married man, with a young child, who is running a successful business, is capable of such an horrific level of violence.”
Speaking outside court, Paige’s mother Pamela said: “Today we see a monsterput behind bars for the unthinkable, brutal crime he committed against ourdaughter Paige.
“There is no sentence high enough to justify what has happened but we can now see there is one less evil man in this world, which then makes the world that bit more safe for our kids to grow up in.”
She went on: “All we can do as a family is take each day at a time. There is a huge piece missing in our family that can never be replaced.
“I am thankful for the 15 years we had with Paige, from the kind and generous wee soul she was, to the mature young woman she grew into.
“She may not be with us anymore but she will live on through her brothers and sister and all the memories that we share.”
She thanked the police investigation team and officials who worked on the case, and the public for the support they have given the family over the last seven months.
Speaking after the sentencing, Nicky Patrick, procurator fiscal for homicide and major crime, said “Paige Doherty was a bright young girl full of energy and vitality who was robbed of her future by John Leathem.
“Her murder has caused shock and disbelief amongst her family and the local community.
“After the frenzied attack, Leathem did his best to evade justice by attempting to clean the crime scene and hide behind his lies. The overwhelming evidence against him has ensured that he now has to answer for this appalling crime.”
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