February 2018

Scotland’s forgotten ‘James Bulger’ killer found on Facebook by toddler victim’s horrified family

The family of a toddler drowned by Scotland’s youngest killer were horrified to find the thug on Facebook.

Jamie Campbell, three, was lured from his gran’s garden in August 1990 by Richard Keith – then 11 – who beat him with sticks and stones before drowning him in a burn.

Jamie’s family say the case bears similarities to that of James Bulger, who was murdered by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson after being abducted from a Merseyside shopping centre in 1993.

But while James’s tragic death became one of the most high profile in British legal history – hitting the headlines again last week when Venables was jailed for child abuse images – Jamie’s relatives feel their plight has been forgotten.

And they were left distraught this week after discovering on Facebook that Keith – who we have chosen not to picture – was living openly in Scotland under his own name and enjoying life with his girlfriend.

Jamie’s cousin Kimberley McPhillips said: “It just doesn’t seem right that he is allowed to be all over Facebook on a public profile where the family of his victim can see him getting on with a new life.

“I know my aunt and uncle still grieve every single day. They will never get over losing Jamie – this feels like a slap in the face to them.

“After I posted on social media asking people not to forget Jamie’s case in light of the attention given to Jon Venables, I received hundreds of messages.

“It was really upsetting to find out Keith was living in Scotland with his own name and not a care in the world.

“I don’t want retribution, I think he should be given another identity and told he can’t use social media. Just a little consideration for the victims is what we are asking for.

“We never forget Jamie. He’s a constant in our family, there’s pictures of him in our family home.

“The James Bulger case was huge and everyone remembers it. It’s very upsetting for the horror of what that family went through. But it just always makes me think of what my family went through.

“It upset me because seeing that brings it all back and I just want to keep Jamie’s memory alive.

“It’s strange because there are so many similarities in the cases but no one remembers our Jamie.”

Jamie had been playing near his gran’s home in Drumchapel, Glasgow, when he went missing.

Witnesses said they had seen him with an older boy near the Garscadden burn. He was found by a woman and her friend lying face down over a large stone with 14 wounds to his head and neck.

Ahead of the trial, it emerged that Keith had attacked another three-year-old in Drumchapel with a penknife and beaten him.

He was detained without limit of time after being convicted of culpable homicide and spent eight years at Kerelaw secure unit in Stevenston, Ayrshire.

But the killer was released at the age of 20 in January 1999 following a decision by the parole board.

After Venables was jailed earlier this week, Kimberley, 31, shared a Facebook post to remember her cousin.

She wrote: “When I was watching the programme (about James Bulger) they likened it to a story that happened in Norway and I thought, ‘It did happen here and it wasn’t that far away.’

“People don’t remember it – a lot of people do, but they’re of a different generation. The people in the community remember because we’re such a tight-knit community.

“I just wanted to share it because Jamie’s story is important and it needs to be known. It’s nothing about seeking justice or revenge – it’s just about keeping Jamie’s memory alive.”

Kimberley, who was the same age as Jamie, called him a “little ray of sunshine”, and said she wanted to “let him know how sweet and funny he was”.

She added: “The Bulger case’s names are famous but nobody knows what Richard Keith has done and nobody knows our Jamie’s name.

“Keith spent nine years at Kerelaw then he was released – you think whether justice was really done. He’s getting to live his life and live in peace, and no one knows who he is or what he’s done.

“My aunt and uncle are forever heartbroken. They’re two of the strongest people I know and they live with that every day.”

Jamie and his three sisters were brought up by his aunt and uncle, Kim and Robert Gallagher, after their mother died in a fire.

When Keith was released in 1999, Kim said: “Keith is evil to the core and you can’t cure evil. I can’t bear the thought of him running the streets.”

January 1999

Boy who killed child goes free

The youngest person to be convicted of killing in Scotland is to be released after serving eight years for drowning a three-year-old.

Richard Keith, aged 20, from Glasgow, was 11 when he was found guilty of the culpable homicide of Jamie Campbell, from Drumchapel, Glasgow.

He beat the toddler with sticks and stones before drowning him in a burn near his home.

After a four-day trial in 1991, Lord Sutherland ordered that Keith be detained without limit of time for a crime he described as “sheer wickedness”.

A parole board has now ruled that Keith is no longer a danger and should be released, despite a six-month campaign by the child’s relatives to keep him in detention.

Keith will shortly be moved to a halfway house where he will receive supervision and counselling from social workers and probation officers.

The family of Jamie Campbell has condemned the decision to release Keith, but a Scottish Office spokesman said the release would go ahead and the Secretary of State, Donald Dewar, had no power to overturn the parole board’s decision. “It has devastated our family, we are just not the same anymore. Yet here Keith is, not even nine years down the road, just putting it all behind him and getting on with his life.

Jamie has no life, but Keith has his in front of him,” said Jamie’s aunt, Kim Gallagher.

A massive murder hunt was launched in Glasgow in August 1990 when two women found Jamie’s body in a burn in the Bluebell Woods near Drumchapel.

Keith was cleared of murder at Glasgow’s High Court in December 1990, but in January 1991 he was convicted in Edinburgh on the reduced charge of culpable homicide.

Jamie and his three sisters were brought up by his aunt and uncle, Kim and Robert, after their mother died in a fire when Jamie was 11 months old.

Mrs Gallagher said last night: “Keith is evil to the core and you can’t cure evil. I can’t bear the thought of him running the streets.”