Died 29th October 2011

Rosina Sutherland (74) died on 29th October 2011 in her flat at a sheltered housing complex in Longstone Park in Edinburgh. She was found the next day by a family member. She had been raped, beaten and strangled.

Kevin Rooney (26), from Edinburgh, a convicted sex offender, admitted robbing, raping and murdering Ms Sutherland. On 15th June 2012, he was jailed for life at the High Court in Edinburgh. Judge Lady Dorrian told Rooney he must serve a minimum of 21 years and four months.

The court heard that the victim, who had various health problems, lived a quiet, private life that revolved around her family and her cat. She was extremely close to her two sons and three daughters.

Rooney had 36 previous convictions, spanning a decade. These included a 2004 conviction for lewd and libidinous practices against two boys under the age of 10. He was on bail at the time of the murder.

Rooney initially denied the charges, but on 13th June changed his plea. The court heard he raped Ms Sutherland, who had dementia, repeatedly struck her in the face, placed his hand over her mouth and nose, and compressed her throat, preventing her from breathing. She died and was left partially clothed on the floor.

Rooney ransacked her house, throwing treasured possessions such as family photographs on the floor. He also pulled the telephone cord apart. He left with almost £400, the keys to the property and Ms Sutherland’s walking stick. He then went to a nearby pub where he used the money to buy drinks for himself and strangers in the bar.

The Judge said: “He drank for some time at the bar, buying lager, cider and shots, playing pool and chatting to staff and customers. Throughout, he walked with a limp, and with the deceased’s walking stick, telling one person whom he engaged in conversation that he had been shot in the leg while in the Armed Forces. The walking stick was noticeably too short for him. The accused is 6ft 3in tall and the deceased was 5ft 3in.”

Rooney was detained by police in the early hours of the following day, on an unrelated matter. He then told them: “I’ve murdered someone. If you gie (give) us a fag I’ll show you the body.” Police took him out to try to find the location but he was unable to direct them to the address. Meanwhile, an alarm was eventually activated at Ms Sutherland’s house after it recorded no activity in the home. Her son was alerted and found her body.

Advocate depute Alison Di Rollo said: “The family of Rosina Sutherland has been devastated by this offence and the circumstances of the loss of their much-loved mother. Not knowing exactly how much she suffered and imagining what she went through in her final moments has been almost impossible for them to bear.”

Det Supt Alan Crawford, from Lothian and Borders Police, said: “This was a shocking and depraved crime, and my thoughts at this time are with Rosina Sutherland’s family, who have been put through a harrowing ordeal as a result of Kevin Rooney’s actions. I would like to pay tribute to them for the courage they have shown, and in particular for the assistance they provided to the officers investigating Rosina’s murder. It is my sincere hope that they can draw some comfort from the conviction and sentencing of Kevin Rooney for this horrendous crime.”

Michelle MacLeod, High Court procurator fiscal for the east of Scotland, said: “Kevin Rooney has pled guilty to cowardly brutal and callous crimes. His crimes are among the most appalling and distressing that we have dealt with as prosecutors.” She added: “I would also pay tribute to the victim’s family for the dignified way in which they have dealt with these appalling crimes.”

Note: This report was compiled from reports from the Daily Mail, STV, the BBC and Deadline News.

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