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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Child's tormentor sent to jail
Cheryl Hanson and Mark Connelly
Cheryl Hanson and Mark Connelly
A heroin addict has been jailed for a minimum of 16 years for the murder of a toddler who suffered weeks of attacks and starvation at his hands.

Mark Connelly, 29, had been found guilty of a horrifying catalogue of neglect which led to the death of Scott Saunders, his partner's son.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday, Connelly was told he would serve a life term and it would be 16 years before that could be reviewed.

He was warned that even after that time it would be up to the parole board to consider if he no longer presented a danger to the public.

The horrifying nature of your crime will live with all of use who have listened to and seen the evidence over a very long time

Lord Kingarth, trial judge
Connelly's heroin addict partner Cheryl Hanson, 24, was earlier jailed for nine years for the culpable homicide of her son.

The court heard that 33-month-old Scott was turned into a living skeleton in just five weeks by Connelly and the boy's mother in their home in Rutherglen, near Glasgow.

Scott was covered from head to toe in 150 separate injuries and his ribs and shoulder blades were sticking out of his malnourished body.

He was abandoned in his home for days on end without food and water in a freezing locked room, while Connelly and Hanson indulged their heroin habits.

Neighbours had seen him naked at his bedroom window with his hands pressed against the glass in an apparent call for help but did not contact the authorities.

The judge, Lord Kingarth, told Connelly: "The horrifying nature of your crime will live with all of use who have listened to and seen the evidence over a very long time."

'Wilful neglect'

"Although it is the view of the pathologist that the child did not die directly from the injuries he suffered, you have nevertheless been found guilty of a series of despicable assaults on a defenceless little boy over a period of days."

The judge told him he had been also convicted of the "gross and wilful neglect and ill-treatment" of the child.

"It is clear that the intention of the couple who claimed to have the care of this child, was to a significant degree, fixed instead on the gratification of their own drug habits," he said.

General view of flats where the couple lived
Scott was a prisoner in the flat in Rutherglen
Scott died at home in Galloway Drive, Rutherglen, on 31 March.

He succumbed to pneumonia brought on by his injuries, hypothermia and malnutrition.

Scott also had the drug temazepam in his system and he had either got hold of it himself or been given it by the couple.

Connelly, who had denied murder, was convicted of wilfully neglecting, ill-treating and abandoning the child and assaulting him by slapping, punching, kicking and biting him.

He failed to provide Scott with proper nourishment, fluids, clothing and heating and repeatedly detained him in a locked bedroom without supervision and to seek medical treatment.

BBC's Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Lord Kingarth said Connelly should serve at least 16 years of his life sentence"
See also:

18 Mar 02 | Scotland
Man guilty of baby murder
17 Apr 01 | Scotland
City push for drugs cash
24 May 01 | Scotland
Baby disfigured by hot iron
22 Mar 01 | Scotland
Drugs programme at crisis point
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