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Last Updated: Monday, 18 October, 2004, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Sex murderer jailed for 20 years
Stuart Leggate
Stuart Leggate was branded a "highly dangerous man"
A man has been jailed for a minimum of 20 years after pleading guilty to the murder of a boy in Glasgow.

Stuart Leggate, 28, sexually assaulted Mark Cummings at a block of high flats in Charles Street, Royston, in June.

He strangled the eight-year-old then threw his body down the flats' refuse chute, the High Court in Glasgow heard.

Leggate had previous convictions for sexually assaulting children and was on the sex offenders' register when he murdered Mark.

He was released in September, 1999, after serving a four-year sentence for assaulting boys aged between three and 10.

The judge, Lord Dawson, said he was "a highly dangerous man" and that he must serve 20 years in jail before being allowed to apply for parole.

Mark, who had been out playing football with friends in the area, was reported missing by his mother before his body was found.

I regard you as a highly dangerous man and the public must be protected from you for a very long time
Lord Dawson
Police launched a full-scale search for the child involving a helicopter, a police dog team and a number of officers.

The court heard how Leggate had been repairing his car as Mark and friends played nearby.

Leggate was filmed by CCTV security cameras as he chatted with Mark before taking him up to his flat to clean grease off him.

After murdering the child, Leggate put him in a bin bag and dumped him down a rubbish chute.

He then drove to cliffs south of Berwick on Tweed and dumped the trousers he had used to strangle Mark along with a bloodstained towel.

Parents distraught

The court heard Leggate had described to police how "the old me had come back" when he admitted the killing.

He described strangling Mark, saying: "It was like I actually heard myself saying 'you let the last one go, I am not letting this one go'.

"I continued until he was dead."

Mark Cummings
Mark had been reported missing by his mother
Mark's parents were distraught as Lord Dawson passed sentence.

The judge said no words of his could express any comfort or solace to the parents, relatives and their friends, or the public revulsion at such a terrible crime.

He told the Leggate: "You have a terrible record.

"I regard you as a highly dangerous man and the public must be protected from you for a very long time."

Strathclyde Police welcomed the sentence handed to Leggate and said it was difficult constantly to monitor sex offenders given their predatory nature.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Smith said: "We have total sympathy for the family of the young boy and yes, the sentence helps for the future but it doesn't bring him back.

'Terrible tragedy'

"Fundamentally, we cannot watch these people 24 hours-a-day and I think the circumstances showed that basically it was an opportunity exploited within a very few minutes.

"That's the difficulty - whilst there are sex offenders in the community there will always be that element of risk."

Margaret McKay, chief executive of the charity Children 1st, said the case was "a terrible tragedy" for the family.

"What we need to know is what is being done to prevent these shocking events from occurring," she said.

"Once somebody has been identified as posing a danger to children, what supervision and treatment do they receive in order to ensure that risks to other children are removed?"

Glasgow Springburn MSP Paul Martin said: "There is a serious need for a top-to-bottom review of how we deal with sex offenders to ensure that we don't place them in communities such as Springburn alongside young families."



SEE ALSO:
Man charged with schoolboy murder
28 Jun 04  |  Scotland


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