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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Life for screwdriver attack man
High Court Glasgow
The judge called the stabbing a dreadful crime
A man who murdered a former policewoman by stabbing her through the eye with a screwdriver has been jailed for life.

A judge at the High Court in Glasgow ordered Robert McNeill, who is from Lanarkshire, to serve 15 years before being able to apply for parole.

McNeill, who was found guilty of the crime, attacked Michelle Wenden, 35, when she tackled him as he was trying to break into cars in Blantyre.

Judge Ian Peebles described it as a "dreadful" crime.

His victim, who served as a police officer in South Africa for 17 years before returning to Scotland, died in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride seven weeks after the attack last November.

She did not regain consciousness. McNeill's DNA was found on the murder weapon.

An entirely innocent young woman has lost her life and there is no apparent reason for it
Judge Ian Peebles

The attack was witnessed by the victim's 18-year-old son, who now suffers flashbacks, and her brother, John, who said "Michelle fell to the ground and everything turned to chaos".

The attacker said in evidence: "I never saw what happened to Michelle Wenden. I never saw her."

The court was also told that a witness to the stabbing of Ms Wenden went for McNeill with a sword.

McNeill was hit on the head with the weapon and then his attacker bent over him as he lay on the ground and slashed him on the face.

DNA evidence

As paramedics lifted McNeill into an ambulance a screwdriver was found under his body.

When it was analysed it was found to contain both the attacker's and the victim's DNA.

The jury heard that McNeill was jailed for 14 years for the attempted murder of a policeman in London in 1993.

At the time of the offence the 35-year-old was on bail for recklessly discharging a firearm. He was later given a four month sentence for this.

Judge Peebles said: "This was a dreadful crime. An entirely innocent young woman has lost her life and there is no apparent reason for it."

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