Family call for inquiry into Outer Hebrides murder


The family of a teenager killed in the first murder in the Outer Hebrides for more than 40 years have called an independent inquiry into those who had a duty to care for him.

Liam Aitchison was just 16 when he was beaten and stabbed at least 20 times while living on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles.

The case shocked the island community, well known as being one of the safest places to live in the UK.

Now Liam’s father and stepmother have said they have “no doubt at all” the authorities “failed Liam on many occasions”.


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They have raised about an internal review by the Western Isles Child Protection Committee – calling for an independent enquiry.

Liam was from South Uist but moved to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in June 2011.

The 16-year-old’s body was found in a derelict military building just outside Stornoway in November 2011.

He had been beaten and stabbed at least 20 times after a row over a bottle of aftershave.

In 2013 Johnathan Mackinnon and Stefan Millar, then both 22, where convicted at High Court in Glasgow for his murder and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.

But Liam’s family believed public bodies still need to held responsible for failing to look after the teenager.

In a statement Mr and Mrs Aitchison said: “We are of the opinion that there has been, and remains to this day, a complete lack of accountability by the responsible authorities.”

They added that they “support wholeheartedly” the call “for a full and independent inquiry”.

“We remain totally bereft to this day since Liam’s most brutal murder and have no doubt at all that the authorities failed Liam on many occasions in their duty of care obligations.”

During the case review by the committee the family claim they were only contacted on one occasion – by phone.

“This only contact was very impersonal and lacking in any sense of empathy,” they said.

Liam had been placed in the couple’s care shortly before Christmas 2010 from his aunt Kate MacDonald, who had acted as kinship carer for a three-month period.

Dr MacDonald could not cope with Liam’s aggressive outbursts and was concerned that he was putting himself at risk by abuse of alcohol and substances.

Mr and Mrs Aitchison said they were “flabbergasted” when a Review Children’s Hearing in February 2011 decided to discharge all formal supervision.

“We pleaded with the Children’s Hearing to keep Liam on supervision – our pleas were ignored,” they said.

“After his move to Stornoway we kept in regular touch with Liam and on a number of occasions attempted to get him to return home with us.

“He was often of no fixed abode, homeless, and without employment – the social workers and Children’s Hearing Panel members had told us that when Liam was discharged from all supervision that support services would remain in place on an informal basis.

“We saw absolutely no evidence of this.”

The added: “We are at present taking legal advice about how we should proceed.”

A spokesman for the Child Protection Committee said: “The family’s statement has been passed to all members of the Western Isles CPC and we will make appropriate arrangements to engage with the family.”