The family of a man who, after spending nine years in jail, took his own life for a murder for which another repeatedly boasted he was responsible, told of their desperation to not have the First Minister interfere to clear his name posthumously.
John McIntosh was 17 years old when, during a night of crime in February 1992, he was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing cab driver Stephen McDermott, 27, to death outside his home in Nitshill, Glasgow.
After serving nine years in jail for murdering the cab driver when under the influence of drugs, he took his own life at home seven years ago. He had tried in vain after another man claimed to be the murderer to clear his name.
The former shipping container industry worker, who died at the age of 38, told his family that he felt let down by the justice system, and repeated this hours before he took his own life in messages to Twitter followers. On Jan. 3, 2014, he was discovered by his relatives.
In December 2016, his son, 25-year-old Grant Wilson, who was just two when his father was incarcerated and suffered from depression, also committed suicide, with the family blaming the double tragedy for the miscarriage of justice.
Convicted killer struggling to clear his name found dead dead
Relatives brought the case to the Scottish Criminal Crimes Review Commission and, with the help of the Glasgow-based Miscarriages of Justice association, which called the death of Mr. McIntosh a disgrace, tried to reverse the conviction.
At 17, John McIntosh, then identified as McLay. The photo above was taken in 1992 at Glasgow High Court.
But since it did not conclude that a miscarriage of justice had occurred, the SCCRC chose not to refer the case back to the High Court.
In response to a request from the First Minister, Dorothy Mackay, Mr. McIntosh’s mother, agreed to seek a posthumous pardon after being informed by judicial officials of the potential path.
The Department of Justice said that if she were to apply for a pardon, she should give the rationale of the SCCRC to deny the further appeal and why, despite that judgment, she felt the sentence was “clearly unjust”
Since the SCCRC was formed in 1999, a pardon has never been recommended by Scottish ministers.
The family was now informed that the parole was denied, and with Ms. Mackay now sick, they gave up ever clearing the name of Mr. McIntosh.
“The Ministry of Justice of the Scottish Government told them, “While the First Minister in Scotland is normally responsible for recommending the exercise of the Royal Pardon Power (RPM) to grant free pardon to Her Majesty the Queen, the constitutional situation is that the courts, not the Scottish Government, determine if an individual is guilty of a crime.
‘A decision to prescribe the exercise of the RPM to the Queen will usually be made only in extraordinary circumstances where it is impossible, for any cause, to refer the case to the courts and where new information has come to light which indicates conclusively that no crime has been committed or that the individual involved has not committed the crime.’
“And the Directorate of Justice claimed that Scottish ministers had decided that it was “not justified in this situation” to issue a royal pardon because both the Court of Appeal and the SCCRC had already discussed the matter.
I understand you think your son has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice. The powers of the First Minister to interfere in such matters are, however, necessarily exercised sparingly. In cases where they conclude that there was no miscarriage of justice, it would not be sufficient for the First Minister to serve as a quasi-‘reviewer ‘of the decisions of the SCCRC or the Court of Appeal.’
Mr. McIntosh’s sister, Dorothy, said, “We have nowhere else to go, and I think we have to stop, because my mother was the driving force behind all this, and now she’s too unwell to go on.” My brother has already taken this miscarriage of justice, I can’t let my mother take it too.
Evidence in the case revealed that Stephen Harkins, the co-defendant of Mr. McIntosh, had repeatedly bragged before and during the trial that he was the true murderer. But in 1994, before the trial that followed, he was found inadmissible by appeal judges in 1994.