A BALLOCH man serving life for killing three members of the same family has won the first stage of a legal battle to be allowed out of jail to see his ill grandmother.

Scott Snowden is serving a 33-year minimum punishment for murdering Thomas Sharkey, 55, his son Thomas junior, 21 and daughter Bridget, eight, at their Helensburgh home in 2011.

The 44-year-old has been in a legal battle with prison chiefs to see his 99-year-old grandmother, who has suffers with dementia and isn’t able to visit him in prison as she is too unwell to travel to see him in prison.

She stays in a nursing home and Until 2017 she travelled to Helensburgh to use video conferencing technology to speak to her grandson.

Snowden launched a legal action against the Scottish Government, saying their decision not to allow him to visit her breached article eight of his human rights.

But a judge at the Court of Session refused permission for a judicial review.

However, his lawyers took the case to the Inner House of the Court of Session, and last week appeal judges decided his bid should proceed to the next stage.

The written judgement published last week states: “It suffices to say that we are satisfied that the petition has enough substance to justify the conclusion that there is a real prospect of success.

“There are significant difficulties which the petitioner will have to overcome if he is to succeed, but our judgment is that it would be going too far too fast to hold at this stage that those difficulties are insurmountable.”

Detailing the nature of the visitations, The judgement states that Snowden was granted escorted day absence (EDA) to visit his grandmother twice in 2018. During the second visit in August 2018, his gran was in hospital and deemed “dangerously ill”.

He was refused permission to visit her on two other occasions in 2019, with chiefs stating there was “no evidence to support the application under exceptional circumstances”.

A letter from her GP stated she was on the palliative care register but was not dangerously ill.

However, the GP confirmed in a further letter that she was not able to travel to HMP Shotts or to any prison nearer to her home.

Prison staff also said they had intelligence linking Snowden to “drug supply and violence”.

Snowden was granted a further EDA visit in January of this year, according to the judgement.

The judgement stated that his gran becomes upset during telephone calls with him as she is unable to see him.

In 2013, Snowden and accomplice Robert Jennings, 51, originally from Renton, were convicted of the triple murder at Scott Court, Helensburgh, in July 2011 after the Sharkey family’s home was set alight.

The pair were also convicted of attempting to murder Mr Sharkey’s wife, Angela, who survived the ordeal but came off a life support machine to be told that her family were dead.

Snowden had previously been jailed for drugs offences.

On Snowden’s orders, Jennings set fire to the only door of the house in the early hours of the morning by poured petrol through the letterbox of the house’s only door and set it alightJennings did so on Snowden’s orders.

Snowden was on holiday in Mexico at the time.

Mr Sharkey Snr inhaled smoke and suffered burns and died later in hospital. His son was pronounced dead at the scene and his daughter also died in hospital.