I forgive the man who tried to murder me

By Louise Cowie
BBC Scotland reporter

  • Published
Media caption,

Linda McDonald describes moment a convicted killer on home release attacked her

Linda McDonald will never forget what went through her mind as she lay stunned and bleeding from Robbie McIntosh's vicious attack.

She thought to herself: "Linda, this is the day you die and this is the way you die."

Linda was battered with a dumb-bell by the convicted murderer, who was on home leave from prison.

At the time of the attack, five years ago this weekend, he was serving life for stabbing another woman to death in Dundee when he was just 15 years old.

Linda says her anger is directed not at her attacker but at the checks she believes failed to keep her safe from him.

McIntosh, now 36, was sentenced to a minimum of five years for the attack but he was also given an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) which means he may never be released from prison.

However, on Monday, he will face an automatic parole hearing.

Image caption,
Robbie McIntosh was jailed in 2018 for the attempted murder of Linda McDonald

Linda, who is now 57, was targeted by McIntosh as she walked her dog in woods near her home in Dundee.

"As I turned around, he was running right towards me, but I never had a chance to do anything but to put my hand up," she says.

"I knew as soon as he hit me it was serious because the smell of the blood, it's like pennies and warm. I was just stunned."

At the time of the attack in August 2017, McIntosh was serving a life sentence for murdering Anne Nicoll on Dundee Law 16 years earlier.

He was being considered for parole and had been allowed home leave in preparation.

A court would later hear that throughout the brutal attack in Templeton Woods, McIntosh "remained impervious" to Linda's pleas for mercy.

She says: "I just started screaming 'help' as loud as I could. When he hit me the second time, I just knew I blacked out."

McIntosh only stopped bludgeoning Linda when two passers-by came to her aid.

She says: "I forgive him, I don't even feel angry at him. I know some of my family and friends feel different.

"I feel angry at the systems that fail to keep the public safe."

She says the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has reneged on promises made on three occasions to let her see a report on her attack.

Linda says the eventual reason for this was data protection concerns.

She says: "What's the point of having this Freedom of Information Act if you can't even get information on yourself about such a horrific thing happening to me?

"Part of me getting better and surviving this, mentally, emotionally, in every way, is having the information.

"If you're denied information then obviously you're going to be suspicious they're hiding something."

Image caption,
Robbie McIntosh, pictured in 2002, was on home leave at the time of the attack in Templeton Woods

Linda is currently campaigning for more stringent checks on violent offenders before they are considered for release.

Linda says: "If you're really wanting Scotland safe and you're wanting your policies and your systems to work, listen to the people who've survived when they don't work."

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: "As we have previously made clear, we are profoundly sorry for what happened to Mrs McDonald.

"We are fully aware of the life-changing consequences, for her and her family, as a result of this dreadful act.

"We have engaged with Mrs McDonald and will continue to do so."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "New legislation which proposes changes to the way imprisonment is used in Scotland, while placing victims at its heart, has been published.

"The independent Parole Board also rightly considers each case on its own merit, with public safety being at the forefront of any decision.

"We have recently amended the rules to allow the Parole Board to take account of the safety and security of victims and their families when considering release.

"Conditions can also be set by the Board to include exclusion zones and prevent an individual on licence from approaching certain people."