THE MAN who murdered teenager Paige Doherty has succeeded in his legal bid to have the time he has to serve in prison cut.
John Leathem,32, was told on Friday by a panel of judges that his 27 year sentence for the March 2016murder is being reduced to 23 years.
Lawyers for the killer had gone to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh last December to argue that the term imposed by Lady Rae - the judge who sentenced Leathem - in September 2016 was "excessive".
Advocate Ian Duguid QC told judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Bracadale and Lord Turnbull that their colleague had imposed a term which didn't take into account Leathem's particular circumstances.
Mr Duguid argued that because his client was a first offender who pleaded guilty to murdering Paige at the earliest opportunity, Lady Rae should have imposed a lesser sentence.
Mr Duguid pointed to other cases which were similar to the murder of Paige. He argued that the people responsible for those crimes were given lesser sentences.
On Friday, the judges issued a written judgement in which they agreed with Mr Duguid's submissions.
In the judgement, Lord Turnbull wrote that he believed his colleague Lady Rae had imposed a sentence which wasn't correct.
He wrote: "When these circumstances are taken into account we think it can be said that the length of the punishment part selected in this case was inconsistent with current sentencing practice and was excessive.
"For the reasons which we have set out above we shall quash the punishment part imposed in this case and substitute therefor a period of 23 years."
Leathem, of Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, was given a life sentence for murdering 15-year-old Paige at his deli in the town.
The businessman was convicted at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year. He pled guilty to a murder charge after being arrested by police for killing Paige.
During proceedings then the court heard how Leathem stabbed Paige a total of 61 times. Prosecution lawyer Iain McSporran said a post mortem of the teenager's body showed that she was "conscious and able to move for at least part of the attack".
The killer's defence advocate Iain Duguid QC told the court then that Paige had gone to Leathem's deli on March 19 2016 and threatened to say he had tried to touch her if he didn't give her a job.
Mr Duguid said a member of Leathem's family had been placed on the Sex Offenders Register and his client had seen the issues that it had caused.
The court heard that Leathem over reacted to this threat by grabbing a knife and repeatedly stabbing Paige.
CCTV footage taken 10 minutes after Paige went into the shop showed Leathem carrying her body out wrapped in a black bin bag in full view of passer bys to dump it in the boot of his car.
Mr McSporran said Paige's body was stored somewhere over the weekend. Leathem then disposed of the remains by placing it in bushes at the side of Great Western Road between Clydebank and Glasgow.
After Paige's body was discovered, the post mortem of Paige's body showed 61 stab wounds, including 43 to the head and neck and 85 further cuts - many of them described as "defensive in nature". The court heard that these showed that Paige had tried to fight off her attacker.
Lady Rae told the married dad of two that his actions were "savaged" and "frenzied".
However, lawyers acting for Leathem believe the 27 year punishment part of the sentence was excessive.
They went to the Court of Criminal Appeal on December 23 last year to argue before judges.
Leathem wasn't present at the hearing. He observed proceedings via an Internet connection from Dumfries Prison.
He wore a T-shirt which showed off tattoos on his arms. He only spoke to confirm to the clerk of court that he could hear what was being said. He showed no emotion as his lawyer made legal submissions.
Mr Duguid told the court in December 2016 that his client didn't have a history of violent offending. He said Lady Rae should have taken that into consideration when passing sentence.
He also told the court that in other similar cases, judges had imposed sentences with lesser punishment parts.
He added: "The sentence imposed in this case is excessive."
On Friday, Lord Turnbull ruled that the punishment part of Leathem's life sentence, the part which he must serve before becoming eligible for parole, was too excessive.
Lord Turnbull added: "As the presiding judge made clear in her sentencing statement, the appellant in the present case engaged in a brutal, savage and frenzied attack on a young defenceless child before attempting to cover up his actions.
"In the course of that attack, he appears to have struck her in the region of 146 times. Each case must be determined upon its own facts and those identified demonstrate that the appellant committed a most appalling murder.
"Even in such cases though, all of the relevant circumstances require to be given proper weight before the appropriate sentence can be identified.
"The appellant was a family man of previous good character who had not offended before and who had expressed remorse.
"The murder was not premeditated. The extent of his efforts to defeat the ends of justice can be measured against certain of the conduct which took place in some of other cases referred to above."