THE tragic case of a father of three who was stabbed to death on the street by a serial offender has sparked a probe into releasing criminals out into the community early.

James Wright, 25, was jailed for a minimum of 20 years on Monday after murdering Craig McClelland in an unprovoked attack a court heard was the result of nothing more than “blood lust”.

He carried out the brutal stabbing despite being “unlawfully at large” after breaching a Home Detention Curfew (HDC) by tampering with his electronic tag almost six months earlier.

Now Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has demanded answers from police and prison bosses over the process for handing out HDCs, which allow prisoners to serve up to a quarter of their sentence in the community while wearing a tag.

He called Mr McClelland’s murder an “appalling case” which “raises a number of questions which I can understand that the family will want to have answers to and that I want answers to as well”.

It comes as the Scottish Conservatives called for major reforms to Scotland’s parole system to shift the balance “back in favour of victims and communities”.

Mr Matheson told Holyrood’s justice committee that Police Scotland’s handling of the case would also come under the spotlight, with questions raised over why Wright was not apprehended earlier.

He said: “I want reassurance around the ways in which the Scottish Prison Service can assess these individuals, and the way in which Police Scotland then investigate the breach [of a HDC] once it has been reported to them.”

Mr Matheson has now asked HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to probe the circumstances around the murder and the wider issue of home curfews.

He added: “They will report directly to me, and once we have those reports we can determine whether there are any further actions that need to be taken.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Tories demanded victims be given automatic rights to attend parole hearings and greater rights to appeal decisions.

The party also argued parole boards should provide more information on why decisions to release prisoners are made.

Figures show more than one in four prisoners handed a fixed sentence are let out early, while one in seven of those given “life” are released back into the community.

The issue has come under increasing scrutiny on the back of high-profile cases such as that of John Worboys – the jailed London taxi driver who was due to be released on parole earlier this year despite a history of rape and sexual attacks against women.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said public confidence in the parole system had been “shaken by scandals like the Worboys case”.

He said: “In Scotland, the truth is that victims are too often being taken for granted thanks to a culture of secrecy that governs decision-making.

“We therefore need a shake-up of the entire system to tilt it back in favour of the victim. A full review should allow victims to attend hearings and speak if they want.

“Parole boards should provide more information explaining why prisoners are being released. And we need to give victims more rights to appeal.

“The SNP government is currently examining parole reform in Scotland. It is the perfect opportunity to ensure that victims are placed at the centre of the system, and not treated as an after-thought.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Decisions about parole – as distinct from Home Detention Curfews – are taken by the independent Parole Board for Scotland, and ministers do not comment on their decisions.

“The process for parole decisions and notifying victims are kept under continual review. We are currently considering how the findings of the recent review of the parole system in England, commissioned after the Worboys case, could be applied to Scotland’s parole system.”