Two men jailed for life for 1996 murder of teenage girl in West Dunbartonshire

Two people who murdered a teenage girl more than 27 years ago have been jailed for life.

Robert O’Brien, 45, Andrew Kelly, 44, and Donna Marie Brand, 44, were last month found guilty of killing O’Brien’s 14-year-old girlfriend Caroline Glachan in August 1996, after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

During 10 days of evidence, the jury heard that O’Brien, Kelly and Brand had arranged to meet Caroline at a bridge near the towpath beside the River Leven, between Renton and Bonhill in West Dunbartonshire, on August 25 that year.

They repeatedly punched and kicked her and threw bricks or similar items at her, causing blunt force trauma to her head and body.

She was pushed or fell into undergrowth and her body was discovered in the river at Place of Bonhill, Renton, later the same day, which was her mother’s 40th birthday.

O’Brien and Kelly (pictured) were jailed for life when they appeared for sentencing at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday.

Brand was unable to attend the sentencing hearing as she was in hospital with a respiratory infection and will be sentenced in March, the court heard.

O’Brien was ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years behind bars while Kelly was handed a minimum of 18 years.

Sentencing them, Judge Lord Braid described the murder as “brutal, depraved and above all wicked”.

He said O’Brien was the main perpetrator and used “extreme violence” on the 14-year-old.

The judge said while Kelly played a lesser role, he was also involved in inflicting “murderous violence” on the teenager.

He said: “Caroline was a lover of life but due to both of you Caroline has been deprived of the opportunity of living that life, becoming an adult, having children, fulfilling the potential she had.

“You have taken a daughter from a loving mother. Mrs McKeich has spoken of the pain that Caroline’s death has caused, the void her death has left that will never be filled.

“She has been deprived of seeing the woman that Caroline would have become. No sentence that I pass could possibly make up for what she has lost.”

Addressing O’Brien, Lord Braid said: “Nobody who heard the evidence of the pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner could fail to be sickened by her descriptions of the injuries caused by you.”

He said O’Brien arranged to meet the teenager but on arrival along with Brand, Kelly and two young children they were looking after, Miss Glachan would have realised it was not a “romantic encounter” but that the teenagers had come “mob-handed” intending to assault her.

He told O’Brien: “You then carried out a murderous assault on Caroline. Then having assaulted her and left her unconscious you left her face down in the river and while she may have died from the injuries inflicted on her, she died from drowning.”

Addressing Kelly, Lord Braid said Kelly threw rocks at Caroline and must also accept responsibility for leaving her in the river.

He also highlighted the murder was committed in the presence of two young children.

During the trial, Caroline’s mother Margaret McKeich said her daughter was “infatuated” with O’Brien but she did not approve of the relationship as he was a few years older.

Mrs McKeich said her daughter had previously disclosed that O’Brien had “lifted his hands to her”.

Caroline’s childhood friend Joanne Menzies, now 42, told the court that O’Brien had threatened to kill Caroline for “kissing another boy” and that she had seen O’Brien bully the schoolgirl on more than one occasion.

Dr Marjorie Turner, a forensic pathologist, told the court the 14-year-old was still alive when she went into the water and the ultimate cause of death was drowning.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC said evidence given by a boy named Archie Wilson, who was four-and-a-half years old at the time of the murder, during the two-week trial was “pivotal” to the case.

Speaking outside court after the three were found guilty in December, Mrs McKeich said it was a “great day” to see her daughter’s killers convicted.

“This is a day we never thought would happen,” she said.

“It will not bring her back, but at least we know who was responsible is serving time because, for the last 25 years, they’ve had their Christmases and birthdays, but my Caroline has been in the ground.”

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