Febuary 2011

Baby killer back on the streets after being freed early

BABY-killer Alexander Ness has been freed early from prison – despite cops’ fears he could strike again.

Parole chiefs ruled Ness, who shook his son Caleb to death in a fit of rage, is no longer a risk.

But police and jail sources say he is prone to violent outbursts, which can be triggered by drink.

His parole comes with a long list of conditions, including a complete ban on pubs and alcohol.

However, Ness, 61, has already won his freedom once before – in 2009 – and was recalled days later after breaching his conditions of release by going out boozing.

The killer is living in supported accommodation in Edinburgh’s city centre while housing chiefs find him somewhere more permanent.

Ness is not allowed to visit tragic Caleb’s memorial in the city’s Seafield Crematorium without permission from his probation officer.

And he is forbidden from making any contact with his ex-partner and Caleb’s mum, Shirley Malcolm, whom he tried to blame for the tot’s death in 2001 at the family home in Leith.

But Ness, who was given an 11-year jail term for culpable homicide, was unsupervised as the Record saw him mingling with unsuspecting members of the public in Edinburgh’s New Town just days after his release.

A police source said last night: “Despite the fact we believe he is a high-risk offender who is still showing harmful behaviour patterns, they decided to release him again.

“Ness is prone to violent outbursts and we are saddened but not surprised he has been freed yet again early.”

A prison source said: “He has a nasty temper and it won’t take much to rile him up. That’s why they have said no alcohol because it seems to be the trigger for his behaviour.”

Ness was on licence for violence and drug dealing when he killed 11-week-old Caleb.

A nurse had warned social workers Caleb should not be left alone with Ness but her fears were ignored and Ness and drug addict Malcolm were allowed to take the baby home.

Tory MSP David McLetchie said last night: “The public will be angry that a killer has been released early on to our streets.

“If he has such a long list of restrictions and if he is still thought to be dangerous, then why on earth has he been set free?”

June 2009

Baby-killer dad Alexander Ness heads to the pub after being freed four years early

BABY-KILLER dad Alexander Ness headed to the pub after parole chiefs let him out of jail almost four years early.

Ness, who shook his 11-week-old son Caleb to death in a fit of rage, gawped at new buildings and stopped to roll a cigarette on the way to a bar near his digs.

The killer, whose cruelty made him a hate figure all over Scotland, served just seven years and four months of his 11-year sentence.

Ness is meant to be under close supervision after his early release.

But he was alone yesterday as the Record watched him mingling happily with the public in Edinburgh. And he was far from pleased when we confronted him.

Ness, 59, whined: “I can’t speak to the media or I’ll be going back to jail on a recall.”

When we asked if he was sorry for killing his son, he muttered, “Yes.”

He added: “I’m sorry. I want to get my life back on track now.”

Ness was on licence after being freed early from a five-year sentence for violence and drug dealing when he shook the life out of tiny Caleb on 2001.

The attack was so violent that the tot suffered broken ribs and bleeding around his brain. Doctors said it was not the first time he had been assaulted.

Ness denied murder and tried to blame Caleb’s mum, Shirley Malcolm, for the crime. But Malcolm was out collecting a methadone prescription when her husband killed Caleb at the family home in Leith.

Eventually, Ness pled guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide. The judge who jailed him, Lady Cosgrove, ordered that he should be closely monitored for four years after his release.

Despite his guilty plea, Ness continued to blame Malcolm for Caleb’s death while inside.

One prison source told us: “He went on and on blaming his ex and said he’d catch up with her on the outside.

“Ness may seem like a harmless character but once he finds his feet he’ll be dangerous. He’s got a temper and could snap again.”

The Record asked Ness yesterday if he planned to contact Malcolm now that he was free. He repied: “I’m not interested in her.”

Baby Caleb’s horrific death caused a massive social work scandal, with critics asking why he was allowed to remain in Ness’s care.

An independent inquiry concluded that the tragedy was avoidable and found fault”at almost every level in every agency involved”.

Caleb spent several weeks in hospital after his birth because he was withdrawing from his mother’s methadone addiction.

At that time, a nurse warned social workers that Ness should not be left alone with his son. But despite that, Ness and Malcolm were allowed to take Caleb home.

Malcolm had two other children before Caleb, and both were in care.

Caleb’s death led to sweeping reforms. A report said the entire child protection system in the Lothians was flawed, and Edinburgh’social work director resigned.

Malcolm insisted she didn’t blame social workers for the loss of Caleb. She said: “The only person to blame is the person who took my son and shook him to death.

“I don’t think anyone could have assumed that Alec would do that. I thought he would have murdered me but I never thought he would hurtCaleb.”

Politicians yesterday condemned Ness’s early release.

Labour depute justice spokesman Paul Martin said: “It’s disgusting. I think I would represent the vast body of public opinion in saying he should have served his 11 years and beyond.”

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken added: “Once again we see soft-touch Scotland in action. A child dies horribly and this man is out after less than seven-anda-half years.”