Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 15:36 UK

Call for mandatory knife sentence

Damian Muir
Damian Muir was killed in an unprovoked knife attack

A father whose son was stabbed to death in the street has led calls for automatic jail sentences for people caught carrying knives.

John Muir, whose son Damian was murdered in Greenock last July, handed in a petition to the Scottish Parliament.

About 16,000 people have signed his petition urging tougher penalties for anyone found in possession of a blade.

Damian Muir, 34, was stabbed eight times on a Greenock Street.

Speaking in the parliament's garden lobby, he said of his son: "He came home after an evening out, minding his own business, heading down towards his own home and he was approached by a thug.

"He didn't know the time and he was stabbed to death. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's not right. He'd every right to be going home."

Figures reported last month suggested Scots are twice as likely to be killed or injured in knife crimes as people living south of the border.

Under Scots law there is no mandatory jail sentence for people carrying a knife in public.

Damian's law

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil, has backed the campaign and lodged a parliamentary motion calling for the implementation of "Damian's law".

Mr McNeil, the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde said the case had "raised some hard questions for the justice system".

He added: "No-one in a democracy wants political interference in the judicial process.

"But the courts must reflect the seriousness with which our community regards senseless, violent crime."

His motion says that knife-carriers need to be taught that their actions have consequences.

It calls on the Scottish Government to "examine the imposition of mandatory custodial sentences for unlawful possession of knives".

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