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Blaze killers in bid for freedom; SHARKEY SLAYINGS MURDERERS APPEAL Lawyers claim trial judge was biased.

Byline: JAMES MULHOLLAND reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

THE men jailed for life for murdering three members of a family in a house fire have launched appeals against conviction.

Lawyers acting for Scott Snowden, 39 and Robert Jennings, 51, want Appeal Court judges in Edinburgh to quash their clients' jail terms.

The two men were caged in July 2013 for the murders of Thomas Sharkey snr, 55, his son Thomas jnr, 21, and daughter Bridget, eight, in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, in July 2011.

Trial judge Lord Matthews told Snowden he would have to serve at least 33 years in prison. Jennings was ordered to serve at least 29 years.

But Snowden's legal team say he should walk free because Lord Matthews favoured the prosecution over the defence in his closing speech to the jury.

And Jennings's lawyers say the judge allowed a piece of evidence to go to the jury which was inaccurate and prejudiced the case against him.

Yesterday, Snowden's advocate Donald Findlay QC told the Appeal Court judges Lord Matthews committed mistakes when he summed up evidence in the case.

He said: "He was obliged to ensure that there was a fair and balanced summing-up of evidence, representing both the position of the Crown and the defence.

"While the learned trial judge rehearsed the Crown case, he failed to remind the jury of a number of important aspects of the defence case and the criticisms offered by the defence of the prosecution case. He ran the risk of making the pieces of evidence seem more important to the jury than they actually were."

Snowden and Jennings were found guilty of setting the fire which killed Thomas snr and his children at their home in Helensburgh. They were also convicted of trying to murder Thomas snr's wife Angela, 48.

The jury heard that Thomas snr, a convicted drug dealer, was one of the people Snowden held a grudge against.

He became enraged when Thomas snr intervened in a drugs debt he was owed.

In revenge, Snowden had the Mariners pub in Helensburgh, owned by Thomas snr, burned down. He also ordered Jennings to set fire to the Sharkeys' home. Angela was the only survivor.

The Appeal Court hearing before Lady Smith, Lord Carloway and Lord Brodie continues.

THUGS WANT SHORTER SENTENCE FATHER-and-son thugs jailed for vicious attacks on a mum and her two daughters have appealed against their sentences.

John Murray jnr, 34, battered his estranged wife Michelle, 30, in front of their children in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, in March last year.

A neighbour alerted Michelle's mum Catherine Ralton, 47, and sister Stacey, 26, who raced to help her.

Murray jnr punched Catherine in the face and his dad, John "Mint" Murray snr, 57, kicked her " in the back, pulled her hair and broke her nose with a punch.

The younger Murray then hit Stacey repeatedly over the head with a metal pole and slammed her head off the concrete driveway.

As Michelle tried to pull him off her sister, Murray snr kicked Stacey in the head.

The Murrays admitted assault and were jailed at Hamilton Sheriff Court last month but have now lodged appeals against their two-year sentences.

CAPTION(S):

VICTIMS Bridget and Thomas jnr. Picture: PA

GRUDGE Drug dealer Scott Snowden

HITMAN Robert Jennings lit fatal fire Robert Jennings lit fatal fire

TA T RGETS Angela and Thomas SHARKEY
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 20, 2014
Words:559
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