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25 October 2017, 15:09
The family of a woman who suffered a "horrific and violent attack" by a murderer on home leave from prison have demanded to know why the "sick individual" was allowed out of jail.
Linda McDonald, 52, feared she was going to die when Robert McIntosh battered her with a dumbbell as she walked her dog through Templeton Woods, Dundee, this August.
McIntosh, 31, only ran off when two passers-by heard her screams and rushed to help.
The killer was jailed for 15 years in 2002 for murdering Anne Nicoll as she walked her dog on Dundee Law on August 2, 2001, stabbing her repeatedly. He was 15 years old at the time of the murder.
McIntosh was out from Castle Huntly prison on a week of home leave ahead of a parole board hearing when he attacked Mrs McDonald on August 7 this year.
Mrs McDonald's family said their lives had been turned upside down by the "horrific and violent attack" and called for authorities to re-examine release criteria.
Her husband Matthew McDonald said: "Given his past conviction for a brutal murder I can't believe the Scottish Prison Service deemed that this sick individual, who attempted to murder my wife, was allowed to be in the public domain.
"The fact that they did raises serious questions about the criteria followed by the appropriate authorities and if there had been strict monitoring, supervision and tagging in place we wouldn't be going through this hell.
"To ensure no other family has to endure what we are experiencing the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board should, as a priority, examine their release criteria and assessment systems. That is the least we would expect."
McIntosh appeared at Edinburgh High Court on Wednesday and admitted attempting to murder Mrs McDonald by repeatedly striking her on the head and body with the weight rendering her unconscious, dragging her from a path all to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment and to the danger of her life.
The court heard he marched past Mrs McDonald in the woods before turning back to attack her.
Advocate Depute Iain McSporran QC said: "He was expressionless as he passed her. After a few more steps his footsteps stopped and he ran up to her at speed.
"She turned to face him and saw him with his hand high above his head holding a metal object which has since been identified as a dumbbell.
"This was being brought down towards Mrs McDonald's head. She raised her hands to cover her face and he brought the dumbbell down on her head.
"She described him as expressionless and he continued to strike her on the head and body. She was certain she was going to be murdered."
Dog walkers Peter and Charles Connor, who had seen Mrs McDonald earlier, heard her screams and rushed to her aid.
They saw McIntosh crouched over something on the ground with a "vacant" expression on his face before he ran off.
They dialled 999 and stayed with Mrs McDonald until emergency services arrived.
She suffered two skull fractures and five head wounds in the attack and her thumb was broken in several places as she tried to defend herself.
Mrs McDonald has suffered dizziness and sleep deprivation since the ordeal and has not been able to return to work.
Solicitor Advocate Chris Fyffe, defending McIntosh, said his client felt "ashamed, contrite and penitent" about his actions.
Judge Lord Arthurson described the attempted murder as "one of the worst cases of violence I have had to deal with" and deferred sentence until November 22 pending reports.
The Parole Board and Scottish Prison Service both said they do not discuss individual cases.