Monster who murdered schoolgirl in knife attack jailed for life – Stabbed 146 times
EVIL John Leathem was sentenced to life in prison today for the frenzied murder of Scottish schoolgirl Paige Doherty.
The monster will spend at least 27 years behind bars for killing the 15-year-old teen in fit of rage in his deli in Clydebank, near Glasgow on March 19.
The killer’s frenzied knife attack left the schoolgirl with 146 knife wounds after being stabbed 61 times. She also suffered 43 blows to her head and neck, some of which were “fatal lacerations”.
Leathem, 32, was handed the mandatory life sentence at the High Court in Glasgow this morning after admitting on September 5 to killing the teen in a ten-minute bloodbath at Delicious Deli.
There were cries of “monster”, “beast”, “why did you do that?”and “dirty b*****” from Paige’s family as Leathem was led down to the cells.
Judge Lady Rae, sentencing, described Paige as a “defenceless child” who endured a “savage and frenzied attack.”
She added: “What you did was truly reprehensible. It is impossible to comprehend how a happily married man was capable of such a horrific level of violence.” She said the jail-term would have been 30 years if Leathem hadn’t pled guilty.
She also said there had been no evidence put before her to explain the “ferocity” of the attack or motive.
Leathem’s lawyer told the court there is no explanation for the killer’s actions, and that “no-one could possibly” have predicted Leathem acting the way he did.
He added that Leathem had no history of anger – and that murdering Paige was “inexplicable” given his “pride and pleasure” in the community”. He told the court: “This is an individual acting so out of character…how ordinary he had been in his day to day life.”
But he also said that there was a “verbal exchange” between Leathem and Paige, “which may have frightened him”.
His defence counsel previously claimed he struck after she threatened to “say you touched me” if she wasn’t offered the post. But Judge Lady Rae said this morning that the assertions saying Paige would say Leathem had touched her were unfounded.
She added that it was clear Paige’s family had been left “heartbroken, bereft and devastated” at the girl’s death.
Her mum, Pamela Munro, sobbed heavily and was consoled by her husband Andy when Leathem was handed his sentence.
Surrounded by her family and friends, she paid tribute to her daughter outside the court after the hearing.
The tragic teen was on her way to work after a sleepover at friend Lauren Stewart’s house in Clydebank when she disappeared on March 19.
She was last seen buying a roll and sausage at killer Leathem’s Delicious Deli before her body was found by passers-by in Clydebank two days later.
Dad of two Leathem was nailed by CCTV footage from outside the deli. It showed Paige entering the deli just after 8:20am on March 19. But the tragic teen didn’t make it out alive.
Leathem grabbed a blade and struck after chatting to her about a job in his shop. He stabbed her 61 times, including 43 times to the head and neck.
A post-mortem found a further 85 cuts on her body described as “defensive in nature” – sustained as Paige tried to fight off her attacker.
Just ten minutes later Leathem pulled down the shutters of the deli, telling the owner of a nearby hairdressers “What a morning – the lassie didn’t turn up.I had a nose bleed and I need to collect my car.”
He then jogged towards his home nearby before returning in his silver Ford Focus to cover up the murder.
He bought bin bags and anti-bacterial wipes from the shop next door.
Five minutes later, he dumped Paige’s body wrapped in a black bin liner in the boot of his car.
He then changed his trousers and bought bleach before going back to the shop – which remained open until 3:15pm that afternoon.
It’s believed that Leathem initially moved Paige’s body from his car to his garden shed.
The next day he treated his unsuspecting wife and young child to a family day out to Balmaha on the shores of Loch Lomond before dumping the corpse in the woods
Meanwhile, Paige’s mum Pamela Munro was frantic after reporting her daughter missing when she had failed to turn up for work.
At 6am on March 21, just two days after her murder, Leathem dumped Paige’s remains in a wooded area less than a mile away, near Glasgow’s Great Western Road, before opening his deli as usual.
Her body was discovered by two passers-by that morning.
Leathem was also handed a six-year term for attempting to defeat the ends of justice. It will run concurrently with his life sentence after he pled guilty.
He originally denied knowing the teen when contacted by one of his staff on behalf of Paige’s worried mum.
But he later revealed she had been in the deli to buy a roll that morning.
After her body was found he was quizzed by police about her murder.
Investigations had found she had gone into his deli “but had not walked away”, which led to his shop, home and car being searched.
But he still denied having anything to do with the killing – telling detectives he was “positive” they wouldn’t find Paige’s blood in his shop.
But blood was said to have been found in “numerous locations” despite “obvious efforts to clean up.”
Deli owner pleads guilty to murdering Clydebank schoolgirl – Stabbed 146 times
A deli owner claims he murdered of 15-year-old schoolgirl Paige Doherty – stabbing her 146 times and dumping her body in woodland – because she threated to say he ‘touched her’.
Paige’s body was found in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, on March 21 after she failed to turn up for her part-time hairdressing job two days earlier.
At the High Court in Glasgow, John Leathem, 32, admitted to her murder.
He will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on October 12.
It was claimed in court by his defence team that Paige had threatened to say he had tried to ‘touch her’ if he didn’t give her a job at his deli – and that he feared being put on the sex offenders’ register like a relative had been.
Paige’s body was found with 61 individually identified stab wounds, including 43 to the head and neck.
A further 85 minor wounds, such as scratches, suggest Paige tried to fight off her killer – meaning Leatham stabbed her at least 146 times in total.
The 4ft 8in schoolgirl went missing after a sleepover at a friend’s home in Clydebank on Friday, March 19, and was last seen buying a sausage roll from Leathem’s shop ‘Delicious Deli’.
Results of a post-mortem found she had suffered “sharp force injuries” to the neck – leading to widespread shock in the local community.
Her mum Pamela Munro, during a moving eulogy at Paige’s funeral service, said: “Her death’s been so tragic and unbearable but its also done a lot for many people and it amazes me that it’s all down to everyone pulling together for this little angel.”
“Sleep tight little lady. See you again one day in heaven. Love you forever,”
Her disappearance sparked intense police activity in the areas where she was last seen and where her body was eventually found.
Specialist forensic officers narrowed down their search to the Delicious Deli in Clydebank’s Fleming Avenue, the premises where the teenager was last spotted after leaving a friend’s house.
Paige’s body was found on March 21 in a wooded area behind a path off Great Western Road, a busy route connecting Clydebank and Glasgow.
Shop owner Leathem was arrested three days later over the death – a killing which stunned the community and wider public.
The killer’s defence advocate Iain Duguid QC put forward the claim in court that Paige had gone to Leathem’s deli in Clydebank and threatened to say he had tried to touch her if he didn’t give her a job.
He said – in an unrelated case – a relative of Leatham was once placed on the sex offenders’ register and Leatham had seen the issues it had caused.
It was stated in court that Leathem over-reacted to this threat by grabbing a knife and repeatedly stabbing Paige.
Days after her death, hundreds of people, many carrying pink balloons, turned out at a local park to remember the popular teenager.
The memorial event at Whitecrook Park was arranged by friends of the girl, who would now have been 16.
The landmark Titan Crane in Clydebank was lit up in pink one evening in memory of the teenager and as a gesture of support for everyone affected by the crime.
Following the girl’s death, people including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon showed the family support by posting pictures of themselves pouting with the hashtag PoutforPaige.
The killing was described as a “spontaneous, gross overreaction” by Mr Duguid, who said there had been some discussion about whether it could be linked to events involving a close relative of Leathem.
The court heard the relation had faced difficulties such as finding a job after being convicted of a sexual offence a number of years ago.
Before Paige’s murder, Mr Duguid said Leathem had been “an ordinary member of the community with no history of offending or violent offending”.
Paige’s family said they will never get over what happened to the teenager.
Her grandmother described her as a “kind and selfless person and all-round good girl” in a victim impact statement.
Mother Pamela hears her daughter’s screams in her nightmares, the court heard, and stepfather Andrew told how they could not get out of their heads “the terror that she must have experienced”.