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Omagh murder victim's sister slams killer's pending official release

Thursday, 6 July 2017

THE sister of a 17-year-old Omagh woman who was brutally murdered back in April 1998 has hit out at the decision to grant the killer a conditional release.

The horrific killing of Sylvia Fleming was shocking in its savagery and the depth of anger it stirred. It is regarded as one of the most savage crimes in Northern Ireland of the last 25 years.

Sylvia's sister, Josie Fleming, said she was contacted at the weekend and told Stephen Scott, who murdered his then pregnant girlfriend, was spotted at his mother's house in Warrenpoint. It's believed he is on a pre-release scheme, preparing him for eventual freedom.

Scott was sentenced in 2000 for the murder in Omagh in 1998. He was convicted and ordered to serve a minimum 19-year prison term.

The defenceless teenager was pregnant when she was killed, her body dismembered and buried by Scott, a psychopathic bully. The killing caused so much outrage in Omagh that it sparked three nights of rioting, with relatives of suspects being burnt out of their homes. Sylvia had been training as a hairdresser and working at a local nursing home.

She had met Scott through friends and, despite a nine-year age gap, was said to have worshipped the 26-year-old part-time fireman. However, her family did not trust Scott, who was known in the area as a 'Jack the Lad'.

 

Sylvia moved in with Scott shortly after they started seeing each other, but the relationship deteriorated when he became too controlling. She left him and moved into a friend's house, but soon discovered she was pregnant.

She kept in contact with Scott and, on Friday, April 3, 1998, she visited his flat at Lisanelly Heights in Omagh. He took the teenager to his bedroom and gave her alcohol and sleeping pills, blindfolded her and tied her to the bed. He then taped up her eyes and mouth, injecting her with insulin before she was strangled or smothered - her exact cause of death was never established. Her body was hauled from the bedroom and hidden in his attic.

The following day, after going swimming, Scott carried her body to the bathroom and dismembered it. Scott and two accomplices even stole 25 from Sylvia's pocket to buy bin bags to wrap her remains and cleaning products to try and cover their tracks.

They then carried Sylvia's dismembered body in the bin bags, moving her around the house, before burying them about a mile away at a housing development on Circular Road. Eight weeks passed before Sylvia's body was found under a partially-built property. Police were led to the site by one of Scott's accomplices after they had spotted him acting suspiciously on the outskirts of Omagh.

Now, 17 years later, Scott has returned to his family's home town in Co Down. A national Sunday newspaper reported that people in the town were concerned about Scott's presence.

A neighbour was quoted as saying: "People don't want him here. I can understand why the poor girl's family don't want him in Omagh - but we don't want someone as sick and evil as him in our community."

 

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle yesterday (Tuesday) Ms Fleming said the family was devastated when they received a letter from the prison service to say Scott had been released on a pre-release scheme. She has called on the service to tell them the date of his official release.

"You can never come to terms with something like this. We're learning to live with it but you never ever, ever get over it. I never gelled with him [Scott]. I found him very controlling and never liked him from the first time I set eyes on him.

She said they were all angry at the manner in which they discovered Scott was getting out. She was contacted by two people on social media who told her he was painting the fence of his mother's house at the weekend.

"Even though we knew the time was coming we are angry and fearful. They need to let us know when he is due for his official release - it's important for us to know when this evil person will be free to walk the streets."

Miss Fleming said she believes Scott is "capable of anything" and should never be freed. She had read the terms and conditions on which he was going to get out, but wasn't impressed.

"I always say life for life and 19 years is nothing compared to what he took from us. We were told the terms and conditions. He can't make any intentional contact with the victim's family - either directly or through a third party; he must have total abstinence from alcohol and drugs; must not enter any public house or premises whose primary use is to serve alcohol; he must not enter the Omagh area; he must remain at the approved address between 10pm and 7am and he must not open or hold any type of social media account," she said.

"He should have got a tougher sentence. It was definitely not enough. That man should never, ever be released," she said.

A spokesperson for the prison service said they could not comment on the issue of Scott's release because of data protection laws or indeed comment on individual cases.

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