A man has been jailed for 24 years for raping and murdering a mother-of-two after he poured petrol on her and set her alight while she was still alive.
Rhys Bennett admitted sexually assaulting and killing Jill Barclay in Aberdeen on Sept 17, 2022 in attacks that the sentencing judge said were “medieval in their barbarity.”
Bennett did not know the 47-year-old before the attack, and met her while she was on a night out. He and his colleagues had been drinking at a pub in the Dyce area of the city where his victim was also spending time.
The 23-year-old followed her as she made her way home, before launching an attack that the judge, Lord Arthurson said “plainly involved extreme, sustained and frankly feral violence”.
Ms Barclay left behind a partner and two children aged six and eight. Her family said she had been “a deeply loved life partner, mother and daughter”.
In a statement released after Bennett’s sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh, they said: “We would like to thank family, friends and the community for their comforting support following Jill’s tragic death as we have waited for justice.
“She didn’t deserve to die that day and especially in the unspeakable, brutal way it happened. This man has taken so much from us and changed our lives forever.”
Bennett, from Ballingry, Fife, followed his victim from the pub towards a derelict property. The labourer hid before attacking Ms Barclay, who worked for the energy services firm Petrofac.
He assaulted Ms Barclay by repeatedly hitting and kicking her, stamping on her head and body, and hitting her head against a down pipe.
Bennett also raped her during the attack and prosecutor Lorraine Glancy KC told of how he then returned to his accommodation and gathered his belongings.
Ms Barclay was still alive when he returned and he tried unsuccessfully to lift her into his van. He retrieved a can of petrol from the vehicle and poured it over her body and set her alight.
Bennett has ‘no recollection’
Bennett appeared in the dock at the High Court wearing a grey tracksuit where he also admitted attempting to defeat the ends of justice by burning the clothes he wore.
Sentencing him, Lord Anderson said he would have to serve a minimum of 24 years in prison before being eligible for parole. He was also placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.
Iain McSporran KC, mitigating, said that his client had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and had “no recollection” of the attack. However, he said Bennett wanted to admit his guilt.