A judge was wrong to conclude that parole board bosses acted “unfairly” and “unlawfully” when denying a convicted murderer’s freedom bid, a court has ruled.

Lord Sandison found that the parole board didn’t follow correct legal procedures when considering a parole bid made by killer David Dolan last year.

Dolan, of Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, was convicted of murder following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow in June 1996 and detained without limit of time.

He was later given a minimum 10-year prison term which began from the time he murdered his victim Eugene Smythe in March 1996.

The Court of Session heard how Dolan had been freed from prison on three different occasions - but had been recalled to custody for breaching his licence conditions and for taking drugs.

Lawyers for Dolan attempted to win parole. But prison chiefs refused to allow him to have his freedom as they still considered him to pose a threat to public safety.

This prompted his legal team to go to the Court of Session to argue that the parole board acted unlawfully when dealing with his case.

The Court of Session heard Dolan’s legal team argue that the parole board failed to follow correct legal procedures when considering their client’s case.

They argued that the board failed to consider the impact on Dolan being kept in custody years after the expiration of his punishment part.

Lord Sandison agreed, concluding that the parole board failed to properly assess the impact on Dolan by keeping him in custody.

He ordered that Dolan’s bid be reconsidered by another parole board panel.

This prompted lawyers for the parole board to appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session and they addressed appeal judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Turnbull and Lord Matthews.

They argued that their colleague had made the wrong decision and that the parole board had acted correctly in deciding that Dolan should remain in custody.

In a written judgment issued by the court on Friday, Lord Turnbull - who delivered the decision - said the parole board were correct to consider the risks that Dolan might pose if released.

He wrote: “That is the approach which the tribunal adopted in the present case. It did not proceed upon the view that any material risk of violence justified continued detention.

“The Tribunal addressed itself to the question of whether it was satisfied that it was no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the petitioner should be confined.

“In the context of his posing a medium risk of causing serious harm if released, with risk factors including companions and alcohol/drug problems, it concluded that it could not be so satisfied because his risk could not be assessed and monitored in the community.

“Accepting that the Tribunal had an appropriate appreciation of the ongoing impact of confinement on the petitioner, the reasoning set out in paragraph 114 of its decision minute provides adequate clarity as to why confinement remains necessary in the public interest.

“There was no need for the Tribunal to approach the matter in any other fashion.

“The decision of the court is therefore that the reclaiming motion will be allowed, the Lord Ordinary’s interlocutor of April 21 2023 will be recalled and the petition will be refused.”

The Paisley Daily Express from June 21 1996 provides an account of why Dolan was convicted of murder.

It tells of how Dolan pleaded guilty to murder on the second trial of his trial. His defence advocate Rita Rae QC - who went onto sit as judge Lady Rae- told the court of his intention to change his plea.

The court heard how Dolan - who was then aged 17 - stabbed 19-year-old Eugene Smythe victim to death in Renfrew on March 2, 1996, after Mr Smythe went to the aid of two girls who were being assaulted by another girl.

Eyewitness Cheraine Folger, of Paisley, said she saw Dolan plunging it into Mr Smythe’s thigh.

She told the court that afterwards both Dolan’s jeans and the knife were bloodstained and he said he hadn’t meant to stab Mr Smythe.

Miss Folger told the court that Dolan stabbed Mr Smythe two or three times in the thigh.

As Mr Smythe fell, Dolan ran away.

Judge Lord McCluskey imposed the sentence on Dolan.

In Friday’s judgment, Lord Turnbull said he and his Inner House colleagues had also concluded that Lord Sandison had acted wrongly in another matter.

Lord Turnbull said Lord Sandison was wrong to pass an order preventing the publication of Dolan’s name in any reporting of the case.

Lord Sandison had passed an order under section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act preventing the identification of him.

Lord Turnbull wrote: “In his interlocutor of April 27 2023 the Lord Ordinary, made an interim reporting restriction in terms of section 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and granted the petitioner anonymity, anonymising his name to ‘DD’ on the basis ‘the petition raises and requires consideration of serious mental health issues affecting the petitioner, publication of the details of which in conjunction with his name would not be in the interests of justice’.

“We are of the view that there is no basis for granting anonymity nor a contempt of court order, taking into account the importance of the principle of open justice in facilitating public confidence in the civil justice system.

“The court will also recall the Lord Ordinary’s interlocutor dated 27 April 2023.”