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BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"Some people think the sentence was too short"
 real 28k

Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Calls for review of justice system"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 14:00 GMT
Killers freed on death anniversary
The killers were released from Polmont YOI

Three killers who kicked and stamped a teenager to death have been released from detention, on the second anniversary of their victim's death.

Mark Ayton, 19, was killed by the three in the Balerno area of Edinburgh, in the early hours of 23 November, 1997.

Ross Gravestock, 19, Iain Wheldon, 20, and Graham Purvis, 19, were each sentenced to four years' detention after being convicted of culpable homicide.

Mark Ayton: Kicked and stamped to death
The sentence provoked outrage amid allegations that the court was lenient because of their middle-class background.

The three were released from Polmont Young Offenders' Institute, after winning parole for good behaviour.

There were suggestions the killing had been motivated by Mr Ayton's English accent, but other witnesses at the men's trial blamed tensions between two local schools.

Mark's father, Malcolm Ayton, said he was resigned to their release.

"I will probably be at the cemetery when they are released, so there will be a certain irony there," he said. "I am not a vengeful father.


I am not a vengeful father ... I did not want to see capital punishment
Malcolm Ayton
"I did not want to see capital punishment or anything like that, just that they would pay their debt to society.

People in the Balerno area are divided in their opinions about the three being released. One said: They got four years, they did half their sentence, they deserve to get out."

Another said: "It's a very short time for what it seems these boys did but at the same time every case has to be judged separately."

Sentencing campaign

But one woman declared: "I think the whole justiciary stinks."

Malcolm Ayton plans to continue campaigning for sentencing reform. He said: "Two years in jail for stamping and kicking someone to death is at the lower end of expectations.

Malcolm Ayton: "The law is wrong"
"I think the law is in a complete mess as far as culpable homicide, murder and attempted murder are concerned.

"You can get 15 years for intending to kill someone, but for kicking and stamping someone to death you get four years."

He called on Scottish Justice Minister Jim Wallace and Lord Hardie, the Lord Advocate, to impress on the judiciary the need for sentences to act as a deterrent.

"The law is wrong and the sentencing policy is less than just," he said.

Jeanne Freeman, drector of the charity Apex, which helps ex-prisoners, said: "I think people are justifiably anxious when they know that someone who has committed a violent act is going to return to their community.

"But we also have a responsibility as a society to try to create the conditions that help people not to re-offend.
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