Serial offender murdered girlfriend just weeks after being released on bail to live with her

Christopher McGowan
Christopher McGowan committed a 'crime of staggering cruelty and depravity', the judge said - Tim Bugler/The Central Scotland News Agency

A serial offender with 40 convictions murdered his girlfriend in a “brutal and bestial” attack after being released on bail to live with her, a court has heard.

Christopher McGowan, 28, is facing a life sentence after a jury took less than two hours to find him guilty of the murder of Claire Inglis, who he strangled, choked with a baby wipe and burned with a lighter in her final moments.

Judge Michael O’Grady KC said McGowan had committed a “crime of staggering cruelty and depravity, a crime of utter wickedness”.

The parents of Miss Inglis, also 28 and a mother-of-one, have demanded to know why McGowan was bailed to live with their daughter and grandson at her flat in Stirling.

Just weeks before the murder, a sheriff had sent him to live at the property after hearing that the “positive” relationship with Ms Inglis, his “new girlfriend”, had motivated him to stay out of trouble.

He had previously been remanded in custody on charges that included dangerous driving following a high-speed police pursuit.

Jail term for assault

“He should never, ever have been put in her flat with my grandson and Claire,” Ms Inglis’s father, Ian, told the BBC following the verdict. “Not with the criminal record he had – it should never have been allowed.”

After McGowan was convicted the High Court in Stirling heard that he had 40 previous convictions, including three for assault.

He had also served an 18-month jail term for assault and robbery and had a record of domestic offending.

He went on to leave Ms Inglis with at least 76 injuries in a frenzied attack, four weeks before Christmas 2021.

She suffered bleeding inside her skull and extensive injuries to her neck, which McGown attempted to explain by claiming she had “fallen downstairs”.

Judge O’Grady said that hearing details of “dreadful” crimes on a daily basis in court meant some offences can “lose a measure of their impact”.

He added: “But some crimes still have the power to profoundly shock, and surely your brutal and bestial killing of Claire Inglis is one.

“It was a crime of staggering cruelty and depravity, a crime of utter wickedness.

“You have without rhyme, reason or pity taken the life of a young woman, a sister and daughter and mother, who as your partner should have been confident of looking to you for protection. Instead, you brought to her terrible destruction.”

Breached curfew before killing

Five days before the killing, McGowan received a community payback order, including a curfew requiring him to stay in Ms Inglis’s flat at night.

Jurors heard McGowan breached that curfew the night before her death, and was still out, intoxicated, with Ms Inglis in Stirling city centre at 9pm when he should have been indoors.

At 5am their neighbours were woken up by McGowan banging on their doors shouting: “Help, she’s covered in blood, she’s not breathing.”

A pathologist found Ms Inglis had “at least” 76 separate injuries, including two black eyes and “petechial haemorrhaging”, a tell-tale sign of strangulation.

The court heard that “in her dying moments”, after her circulation had already ceased, McGowan had “taken a heat source to her ear nose and thumb and burnt her”.

He will be sentenced on Oct 25.