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Saturday, May 24, 2008


5-24-2008 United Kingdom:

The killer of a Cheltenham woman has been found dead in his prison cell.Shirley Cotton-Betteridge's family now say justice has been done.

The barmaid was 22 years old when psychopath Paul McMilan stabbed her more than 40 times.

McMilan was sentenced to life in Broadmoor psychiatric prison in 2002.

But on Thursday morning he was found unconscious in his cell, dying minutes later.

Speaking from his home in Whaddon, Shirley's stepfather, Graham Morgan, described it as "brilliant news".

He said: "I was sat in my van when I got the call.

"My first gut feeling was 'they are going to release him'. So when they said he was dead, I thought it was great. At least now he won't hurt anyone else."

Graham became stepfather to Shirley and her sisters Anna, Christie and Lucy when Shirley was four years old.

Cheltenham-born Shirley went to St Benedict's School and trained as a hairdresser at Gloscat, working in His Knibbs.

"People just don't realise what we've been through and are still going through," Graham said.

"Not a night goes by when I don't talk to Shirley.

"We don't speak about her much, because we don't want to upset each other.

"Sometimes I see a girl in the street who looks just like her, and I want to go up to her and speak to her as if it's Shirley but I don't.

"You couldn't have asked for a better daughter.

"She was the typical girl next door, you could have a laugh with her and nobody had a bad word to say about her."

Shirley was working as a barmaid when McMilan, who she knew from work, followed her into the office of the Figureheadamp; Firkin pub in Bristol on August 29, 2001.

He punched and kicked her to the ground before stabbing her to death.

Builder Graham didn't work for nearly a year after her death, and still visits Shirley's grave every Sunday to take flowers and make sure it is spotless.

Graham said he and Shirley's mother, Anita Nelder, were still angry at the justice system for releasing McMilan early from a previous sentence, leaving him free to kill.

He was convicted of indecently assaulting a girl when he was 17 and sentenced to three years behind bars in 1999, but he was released on August 30, 2000 after serving 16 months.

After release he failed to attend a sex offenders' course, meetings with his probation officer and a mental health assessment before killing Shirley.

Graham said: "They let Shirley down and then they let us down.

"If it wasn't for them, she would still be here.

"We would probably have had grandkids by now. They have taken everything from us."

But he reserved most of his anger for McMilan, saying he could never forgive him for what he had done.

"I wish the death penalty had still been around for the likes of him," said the distraught dad.

"Paul McMilan has never, ever given a reason for what he did, and that's what really hurts.

"I promised Shirley I wouldn't let this happen to any other girl and now I feel like I've kept my promise."

Shirley's sister Laura, 25, said she hoped people would learn from her death. She told the Echo: "I'm sad for his parents but happy about him because he's not going to do it again.

"If he hadn't been released in the first place two lives would have been saved." ..more.. by RIC SUMNER

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