AN obsessive boyfriend who refused to accept that his relationship was over was jailed for life for a second time yesterday for the claw hammer murder of his former girlfriend.

Stuart Drury's attack, during which he rained down 10 blows on the face of Marilyn McKenna, a mother-of-three, sparked off fresh debate about the failure of the law to protect women from violent stalkers in Scotland.

The SNP said specific stalking legislation may now have to be considered, while Pauline Mc-Neill, convener of the Scottish Parliament's justice committee, said existing laws had to be made more effective.

The Scottish Executive has already beefed up the existing law in Scotland which basically relies on breach of the peace to deal with offences such as stalking.

The government also held a consultation exercise in which one of the questions was on whether Scotland should introduce specific stalking legislation, but the process was inconclusive and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen has now been asked to carry out a research study. Its report is expected to be available in about a year's time.

After yesterday's verdict at the High Court in Edinburgh, the dead woman's sister, Aileen McDermott, reignited the debate with a passionate call for more protection for women like her sister and a better deal for the victims of crime in general.

The agony of the family has been magnified by the fact they have twice had to sit and listen to medical evidence about the horrific injuries suffered by Ms McKenna, and have heard her character blackened by Drury.

Mrs McDermott said: ''We really have got to listen to victims more and not just put it down as a 'domestic'. Mr Drury's got a life sentence. We've got a life sentence. There should have been a recommendation that this man serve 15 or 20 years.

''We've got a whole host of victims out here that are forgotten about. There's got to be a balance between the two.''

She said what had come out in court was only the tip of the iceberg and Drury had been stalking her sister for nearly three years. On one occasion, he had been ordered to pay (pounds) 400 compensation after breaking her nose.

''Because there was no law against stalking, he couldn't be charged or convicted. Breach of the peace is an old-fashioned law which, as far as I'm concerned, is not suitable for dealing with stalking.''

Drury, a 35-year-old salesman, first stood trial at the High Court in Glasgow charged with murdering Ms McKenna, 37, in Abbeyhill Street, Carntyne, Glasgow, on September 1998 by assaulting her so severely with a claw hammer that she died in hospital from her injuries the following day.

He admitted he had carried out the attack, but claimed that because he had been provoked by Ms McKenna's unfaithfulness to him, he should be convicted of the lesser charge of culpable homicide rather than murder.

The jury convicted him of murder in February 1999, but five appeal judges decided Lord Kirkwood, the trial judge, had misdirected the jury on the law of provocation. They allowed the Crown to stage a second trial which ended yesterday with the same result, although this time the jury returned a majority rather than a unanimous verdict.

Michael Matheson, shadow deputy justice minister and SNP MSP, said: ''I think this case highlights the need for specific legislation to deal with stalking in itself and produce specific legislation.''

Ms McNeill said: ''No one is ruling out stalking legislation at this stage, but we do need to make the current laws more effective.

''And we have to address the effectiveness of the system to protect victims like Marilyn so that judges understand the severity of the circumstances.''

Mairead Tagg, of Easterhouse Women's Aid, said: ''Marilyn did everything by the book. She followed the expectations of society which is that an abused woman should leave her abuser, contact the police, take out an interdict, protect her children.

''She did all of that and yet she still ended up paying with her life and, frankly, where are her human rights?''