The Scottish Conservatives have called for the Justice Secretary to reassure the family of Michelle Stewart, a 17 year old girl brutally stabbed to death in 2008, that they will not run into her killer after he was reportedly seen in Prestwick without any prior warning.
John Wilson, who viciously killed Michelle Stewart only eleven years ago, was apparently seen by a member of the public in Prestwick on Tuesday despite the previous commitment of the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, that he would not be allowed anywhere other than his work placement between HMP Greenock and Barlinnie.
The Stewart family have been campaigning to strengthen victims’ rights ever since they were informed last year of the temporary release of Michelle’s killer.
Lisa Stewart has again written to Humza Yousaf, the Justice Secretary, expressing her concern that she was not informed of this release and that she and her family are now deeply worried they may run into the unrepentant thug on their doorstep.
As Lisa writes in her letter, the family has “consistently expressed our concern about being put in a position of coming into contact with John Wilson when he is in the area and how this is unfair on us to have to be put in this position.”
Ms Stewart goes on to say that she is now having to change her plans as a result of this discovery and that she is now “restricted in my movements in my local area as once again there has been no prior warning given that he is in the area.
Lisa finishes her letter to the Cabinet Secretary saying that the family is; “extremely disappointed given we have expressed our concerns to you directly and had your assurance that you would deal with the matter that we have once again been put in this position.”
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary said:
“Having already gone through so much the Stewart family are, once again being traumatised because of failures in the SNP’s parole and early release system.
“It is deeply concerning that John Wilson seems to have been in Prestwick despite Humza Yousaf’s promise to the family that he would not be outside of his work placement.
“The Justice Secretary has promised the Stewart family that they do not face the prospect of bumping into their sister’s killer in their home town, but how can he be trusted now?
“Humza Yousaf must reassure the Stewart family that Mr Wilson was not in Prestwick and that they will receive full warning whenever he is out on temporary release.
“The SNP must now reform the parole and temporary release system to put victims at the heart of the justice system.”
Notes to editors:
The full text of the letter is below
Dear Mr Yousaf
I write further to previous communication which has been ongoing for the past year about the temporary release of John Wilson to the local area and also the location of him when released on parole.
We have consistently expressed our concern about being put in a position of coming into contact with John Wilson when he is in the area and how this is unfair on us to have to be put in this position. In your communication in response to this you advised he was in work placement between HMP Greenock and Barlinnie and you guaranteed we would not come into contact with him on that route. Now today a local person has seen him in Prestwick which I assume is for his FGTR visits. I am aware his sister’s boyfriend passed away last week but I believe as that is not a close relative then he would not be released to attend the funeral.
So once again we could quite easily be put in the position of literally bumping into him. In fact Steven and I did consider going to Prestwick with our kids today but then changed our minds- thank goodness but is it fair that our lives are being hindered given we are law abiding citizens. I find I am now restricted in my movements in my local area as once again there has been no prior warning given that he is in the area. I understand that he has rights but we also have rights and given we are not the ones who have committed a murder we should not be the ones that are having our lives disrupted and restricted.
I am extremely disappointed given we have expressed our concerns to you directly and had your assurance that you would deal with the matter that we have once again been put in this position.
Can you advise why this is?