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Man Found Guilty of Committing Murder in 1999

A man has recently been sentenced to life imprisonment at the High Court in Glasgow for a murder committed in Coatbridge in 1999.

James McGowan, who is 58-years-old, was told he would spend a minimum of 18 years in prison for stabbing to death his former brother-in-law,  Owen Brannigan,  more than 17 years ago.

The case was a success for the Crown’s specialist Cold Case Unit, which reviewed the evidential position of the murder in 2012 and concluded there was enough evidence to seek the extradition of McGowan. 

McGowan had emigrated to Australia in 1980, but returned to Scotland for the funeral of his mother on 22nd November 1999.

The trial had previously heard that just over a week later, McGowan assaulted a cousin of the deceased in a social club. He was heard making comments which were taken to be threats against the Brannigan family, with whom there had been a history of animosity.

McGowan tracked Owen Brannigan down at the house of a friend and found him asleep on a sofa. He punched his victim several times in the face before repeatedly stabbing him.

McGowan left the area on the morning of 29th November, contacted his travel operator and organised to bring his return to Australia forward by a week, flying out of the UK on 3rd December.

In 2012, following a review by Cold Case Unit of COPFS and the discovery of new evidence by Australian authorities, extradition proceedings were initiated to have him brought to justice.

He contested the extradition request in the Australian courts, resulting in protracted litigation before he was returned to Scotland to stand trial.

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