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Thursday, October 8, 1998 Published at 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK


We got it wrong, police tell family

A police force has apologised after wrongly suspecting a teenage footballer's brothers of murdering him.

In the end a complete stranger was jailed for life for the murder of 15-year-old Lawrence Haggart, who played for Glasgow Celtic's youth team.

Central Scotland Police said on Thursday the Haggart family "expected and should have received a much better performance" from the investigation team.

Lawrence was beaten to death and left in his blazing home in Larbert, near Falkirk, on 18 March 1996.

'Wrong focus'

Police immediately suspected his brothers Dennis and John.

Deputy Chief Constable Mike Currie visited the family's home on Thursday and explained to the boy's parents and two brothers what action the force has taken since they complained.

A statement issued by the force said: "A murder investigation was carried out under the direction of Detective Superintendent James Winning, which wrongly focused upon members of the Haggart family.

"A subsequent investigation led by Detective Superintendent Joseph Holden resulted in the arrest and later conviction of Brian Beattie."

[ image: Dennis Canavan MP: 'Family went through hell']
Dennis Canavan MP: 'Family went through hell'
Local MP Dennis Canavan, who has strongly criticised the force's handling of the case, said: "That family has been through absolute hell.

"Not only have they suffered the loss of a son and brother, the police who originally investigated the case virtually accused Lawrence's two brothers of being involved in the murder."

Lawrence's father, also called Lawrence, told BBC Scotland: "They should all be sacked. The mayhem they caused to the family, especially the two boys, to me ... They've got off too lightly."

Mr Haggart welcomed the apology and said: "There was never any doubt that it was not Denis or John that murdered Lawrence and I think Mr Currie stated that in his statement so we're very happy with that."

Beattie, who had convictions for burglary and arson, was jailed for life in April. A judge recommended he serve at least 15 years.

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