Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
Vic Rodrick

Charmaine O’Donnell's killer still walking free after sentencing delay over reports

A man who killed a young charity worker by pushing her off a pier for “a bit of fun” is still at liberty after a judge ruled he needed more information before passing sentence.

Jacob Foster, who has a learning disability, was originally charged with murdering 25-year-old charity worker Charmaine O’Donnell from Glasgow.

However, he was convicted after trial of the less serious offence of culpable homicide and allowed to remain on bail.

He was due to be sentenced at the High Court in Livingston on Thursday but judge Lord Fairley was told a social work report into his background was not yet ready and he was still to be interviewed by a doctor for a further medical report.

Read more: Thieves steal £500k worth of tyres from Wishaw business and could be selling 'illegally'

The judge said it was "regrettable" that sentencing would be delayed further.

Charmaine, from Glasgow, died as a result of severe neck injuries and drowning after 29-year-old Foster shoved her from behind into the water at Helensburgh Pier on April 23, 2021.

Foster's lawyers had lodged a special defence of diminished responsibility, but this was rejected by jurors.

Charmaine's friend Caitlin McTaggart, 25, told jurors that after she saw Charmaine in the River Clyde she screamed at Foster to help her friend.

She said: “He just kept saying: 'What have I done? I have taken it too far this time. I am going away for a long time'."

PC Gary Davidson, who spoke to Foster at the pier after the incident, told jurors: "He said that it was an accident.

"He told me: 'I just pushed her. It was just a bit of fun'. I did not know that she could not swim.”

Foster also told the officer he’d “had a few cans that day”.

PC Davidson said: "I said to him the best thing was to stay calm and not say anything, but he said these things again and again."

Foster's lawyers had claimed that, due to his mental health issues, Foster had misunderstood an alleged remark Charmaine made about going into the water.

But, in his closing speech, Mr Prentice said there was overwhelming evidence Foster had deliberately pushed Charmaine.

It emerged after the jury’s guilty verdict that Foster had a number of previous convictions, including one for assaulting a staff member at a Costa coffee shop in Helensburgh in 2018.

When the case called for sentencing on Thursday Foster’s mum and dad accompanied him into court and later arranged for him to leave by a rear entrance to avoid waiting cameras.

Sean Templeton, defending, told the court that although he had two medical reports and a report from a mental health officer there was still no criminal justice social work report available.

He explained that the social worker involved was awaiting the sight of various medical reports before she finalised her background report on Foster.

He added: “We’re also waiting for an examination and assessment of Mr Foster to be carried out. That’s not available because the doctor has not yet been able to meet him.

“That has now been arranged for 20 October at the offices of those instructing me. I also understand the doctor is seeking access to the medical reports and those instructing me are doing their best to facilitate that.”

Mr Templeton said November 11 had been identified as a suitable date for a further deferred sentencing diet.

He added that he anticipated no difficulty with the social work report being available by then and hoped that the doctor’s report would also have been completed, giving the court full access to all the reports in order to make a determination on what he said was a “particularly complicated” case.

He earlier described Foster as “a young man with learning difficulties who got it wrong".

Lord Fairley stressed that he wanted to have all sentencing options in front of him before making a final decision on how to dispose of the case.

He commented: “Obviously it’s in everybody’s interests – Mr Foster’s and all other parties who have an interest in this case – that this be brought to a conclusion sooner rather than later.

“It seems to me that the suggested date which is in just over a month’s time is a sensible option. If the doctor is not meeting Mr Foster until October 20 she’ll need some time to prepare a report and submit it."

He added: “What I’ll do is further adjourn sentence until November 11 – that will be in Edinburgh at 9.30am.

“I hope on that day it will be possible for a decision to be taken on sentencing and I hope by that date all relevant documentation will be available.

“The delay is regrettable but it’s a much more complex case than usual and because of the number of people involved it’s not been easy to get the suite of documents I need.”

He asked Mr Templeton to make sure Foster understood everything that had been said in court and reminded him that he remained on bail subject to conditions already put in place.


Glasgow police probe 'unexplained' death of 36-year-old man near Kinning Park

Lewis Capaldi's farmhouse near Glasgow was a 'hell hole' forcing him to move into city flat

Footballer kicked out of Glasgow nightclub 'humiliated' after shameful row with cops

Barlinnie prisoner took out 'contract' on rival days before taking his own life

Bogus Ibrox steward attacked safety manager after being caught at Rangers match

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.