Sentencing Of Killer Gilroy First To Be Filmed

James Matthews, Scotland correspondent

David Gilroy has been jailed for a minimum of 18 years for murder as he became the first convicted killer to have his sentence recorded on camera in a British court.

Judge Lord Bracadale was recorded at the High Court in Edinburgh and the footage was then transmitted by Sky News and other broadcasters.

Under an agreement reached with broadcasters, any interruptions would be edited out.

Scotland's judiciary agreed to allow filming because of the amount of public interest in the case.

Gilroy, 49, murdered his former lover, 38-year-old Suzanne Pilley, in May 2010 before dumping her body, which has never been found.

He was convicted of the killing in March .

A television camera recorded the judge's entry into the courtroom. Gilroy was not filmed during the process.

Lord Bracadale began a five-minute sentencing statement with the words: "David Gilroy, will you stand please."

He also told the killer: "It seems that you are the only person who knows where her body is.

"I hope that the day will come in your life when you feel able to disclose that information and that may bring some comfort to her bereft family, particularly her mother and father who, after giving evidence, sat in quiet dignity throughout the rest of the trial."

He said: "The evidence indicated that, having confronted her over her decision to end the relationship, you lost your temper and murdered her in a sustained attack."

Lord Bracadale spoke of the "quite chilling calmness" with which Gilroy set about disposing of the body.

And then, at the end of the statement, the judge told him he would serve a minimum of 18 years.

He finished with the words: "Would the escort take the prisoner down please."

In a statement released through police, the family of Ms Pilley said: "We are relieved that the legal process has concluded and it gives us comfort to know justice has been done for Suzanne.

"As a family we will continue to try to move on but we will never be able to rest completely until we know where our daughter is."

Since 1992, Scotland's judges have been permitted to allow cameras into court at their discretion.

Appeal rulings have been recorded in the past, as was a bail application by the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.

Previously, there has also been filming in the Sheriff Courts for documentary and educational purposes.

Elizabeth Cutting, Head of Judicial Communications (Scotland), told Sky News: "This particular case has attracted a lot of media attention and public interest.

"The reason we've allowed this is that, at the sentencing stage, there is a very low risk to the administration of justice.

"It is simply the judge coming on the bench and passing sentence.

"We try to be as open and accessible as possible and explain the justice system to the public.

"This is another opportunity for us to allow the public to see what goes on in court.

"People can't get in court everyday to see what happens and justice should be seen to be done and this is an opportunity for the public to see an accused being sentenced.

"It won't be transmitted live and there's a very good reason for that.

"Occasionally you can have some interruptions from the public gallery or from the accused.

"In order to preserve the dignity of the court and show some respect to the families of those closely involved in this very tragic case, we will take the film and edit out any interruptions before it is fed to media organisations via satellite."

The granting of permission to film inside the High Court, at a sentencing for a serious crime, is universally viewed as significant for media coverage of the justice system.

Scotland's legal system operates separately from that in England and Wales but, south of the border too, the court system is being opened up to the broadcast media.

The Supreme Court in London is already broadcast via the Sky News website and elsewhere.

Following a campaign by Sky News and other broadcasters, the Queen's speech is expected to include legislation paving the way for the televising of rulings in the Court of Appeal, south of the border.

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