Woman jailed for murder of schoolgirl in 1996

Woman jailed for murder of schoolgirl in 1996
Woman jailed for murder of schoolgirl in 1996
The body of Caroline Glachan was discovered on the banks of the River Leven in August 1996 [PA Media]

A woman has been sentenced to at least 17 years in prison for the murder of a schoolgirl in West Dunbartonshire almost 30 years ago.

Donna Marie Brand was found guilty of killing 14-year-old Caroline Glachan, alongside Robert O’Brien and Andrew Kelly, in Renton in August 1996.

The trio were convicted of the murder after a two-week trial in January, but Brand’s sentencing was deferred due to illness.

The 44-year-old was given a life sentence at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday.

She will have to serve at least 17 years before she can apply for parole.

O’Brien, 45, was sentenced to at least 22 years in prison, while Kelly, 44, was sentenced to at least 18 years.

Judge Lord Braid said O’Brien – who was 18 at the time and had been in relationship with Caroline – was the “main perpetrator” but Brand and Kelly were responsible on an “art and part” basis.

He described the killing as “brutal, depraved and above all wicked.”

During the trial, the jury heard that Caroline, from Bonhill, had been “infatuated” with O’Brien.

On the night of her murder, she had arranged to meet at a bridge over the River Leven at about midnight.

She was later killed in what prosecutors described as a “horrific and violent attack.”

Caroline suffered at least 10 blows to the head and extensive skull fractures. The jury was told she may have been alive, but unconscious, when she entered the water.

Her body was discovered by a passer-by, face down in the river, hours later.

A murder investigation was launched, but there was no breakthrough until the case was re-examined by Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team in 2019.

Officers re-interviewed residents of a street in Renton where O’Brien, Kelly and Brand had claimed they spent the night of the murder.

An upstairs neighbor said she had seen four people – including Kelly and his girlfriend, the late Sarah Jane O’Neill – leaving the flat before midnight.

Kelly and O’Neill had been babysitting two boys, and had been joined by O’Brien and his girlfriend, Brand.

They took four-year-old Archie Wilson and his baby brother Jamie along with them when they went out.

That discovery enabled officers to corroborate an account given by Archie the day after Caroline was attacked.

Archie had told his mother, Betty, that he had been at the river and that he had seen fighting and Caroline falling into the water.

The judge previously told O’Brien he had been “the main perpetrator” of the attack, describing it as a “murderous assault.”

He said Kelly had played a lesser role, but was still involved in inflicting “murderous violence” on the teenager.

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