Deli owner John Leathem says why he stabbed 15-year-old 146 times claiming ‘she threatened to say he touched her’
John Leathem, 32, has pleaded guilty to murdering the 4ft 8in
schoolgirl whose body was found dumped in woodland in Clydebank, West
A deli owner claims he murdered of 15-year-old schoolgirl Paige
Doherty – stabbing her 146 times and dumping her body in woodland –
because she threated to say he ‘touched her’.
Paige’s body was found in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, on March 21
after she failed to turn up for her part-time hairdressing job two days
At the High Court in Glasgow today, John Leathem, 32, admitted to her murder.
He will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on October 12.
It was claimed in court by his defence team that Paige had threatened
to say he had tried to ‘touch her’ if he didn’t give her a job at his
deli – and that he feared being put on the sex offenders’ register like a
relative had been.
Paige’s body was found with 61 individually identified stab wounds, including 43 to the head and neck.
A further 85 minor wounds, such as scratches, suggest Paige tried to
fight off her killer – meaning Leatham stabbed her at least 146 times in
The 4ft 8in schoolgirl went missing after a sleepover at a friend’s
home in Clydebank on Friday, March 19, and was last seen buying a
sausage roll from Leathem’s shop ‘Delicious Deli’.
In new CCTV footage released after Leathem admitted the murder, the
15-year-old schoolgirl can be seen entering the deli at around 8.20am –
and never coming out again.
Results of a post-mortem found she had suffered “sharp force
injuries” to the neck – leading to widespread shock in the local
Her mum Pamela Munro, during a moving eulogy at Paige’s funeral
service, said: “Her death’s been so tragic and unbearable but its also
done a lot for many people and it amazes me that it’s all down to
everyone pulling together for this little angel.”
“Sleep tight little lady. See you again one day in heaven. Love you forever,”
Her disappearance sparked intense police activity in the areas where she was last seen and where her body was eventually found.
Specialist forensic officers narrowed down their search to the
Delicious Deli in Clydebank’s Fleming Avenue, the premises where the
teenager was last spotted after leaving a friend’s house.
Paige’s body was found on March 21 in a wooded area behind a path off
Great Western Road, a busy route connecting Clydebank and Glasgow.
Shop owner Leathem was arrested three days later over the death – a killing which stunned the community and wider public.
The killer’s defence advocate Iain Duguid QC put forward the claim in
court that Paige had gone to Leathem’s deli in Clydebank and threatened
to say he had tried to touch her if he didn’t give her a job.
He said – in an unrelated case – a relative of Leatham was once
placed on the sex offenders’ register and Leatham had seen the issues it
It was stated in court that Leathem over-reacted to this threat by grabbing a knife and repeatedly stabbing Paige.
Days after her death, hundreds of people, many carrying pink
balloons, turned out at a local park to remember the popular teenager.
The memorial event at Whitecrook Park was arranged by friends of the girl, who would now have been 16.
The landmark Titan Crane in Clydebank was lit up in pink one evening
in memory of the teenager and as a gesture of support for everyone
affected by the crime.
Following the girl’s death, people including Scotland’s First
Minister Nicola Sturgeon showed the family support by posting pictures
of themselves pouting with the hashtag PoutforPaige.
The killing was described as a “spontaneous, gross overreaction” by
Mr. Duguid, who said there had been some discussion about whether it
could be linked to events involving a close relative of Leathem.
The court heard the relation had faced difficulties such as finding a
job after being convicted of a sexual offence a number of years ago.
Before Paige’s murder, Mr. Duguid said Leathem had been “an ordinary
member of the community with no history of offending or violent
Paige’s family said they will never get over what happened to the teenager.
Her grandmother described her as a “kind and selfless person and all-round good girl” in a victim impact statement.
Mother Pamela hears her daughter’s screams in her nightmares, the
court heard, and stepfather Andrew told how they could not get out of
their heads “the terror that she must have experienced”.
Detective Superintendent Duncan Sloan said: “Paige’s whole future lay
ahead of her and her life has been brutally cut short by the vicious
actions of one man.
“These type of incidents are very rare in Scotland and Paige’s
untimely death shocked a community to its core, particularly as the man
responsible was one of them.
“The support from the local community has been much appreciated and I
hope that Paige’s family can take some comfort from the result of the
court proceedings today.”
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