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HMA v Peter Cameron

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (13 May 2020) Lady Scott imposed an order for lifelong restriction with a punishment part of 6 years on Peter Cameron, after the accused pleaded guilty to 1 charge of attempted murder, 1 charge of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement, and was found guilty of another charge of attempted murder.

On sentencing, Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

“You pleaded guilty during trial to attempted murder in charge 1,  and guilty to assault to severe in jury and permanent disfigurement in charge 3 (as amended) and you were convicted by the jury of attempted murder in charge 2.

The charges all relate to the same incident which took place in the early hours on 8 November 2018 outside the Apex hotel on the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. The two female victims in charges 1 and 2 were friends and colleagues who both worked as senior medical nurses. They were visiting on a weekend break and staying at the Apex Hotel. Your third victim worked at the hotel as the night porter.

 After returning to the hotel from the night out the two female friends went outside to have a smoke at the designated area which was located in the vennel at the side of the hotel. This area is covered by CCTV cameras which provided clear footage of this incident.

You Mr Cameron can be seen on the CCTV in the Grassmarket near to the entrance to the vennel, when you suddenly turn into it  and approach the two women. You go to stand directly over your second victim who is crouching down leaning back against the wall of the hotel. You appear very threatening. The first victim tells you twice to move on. You then walk out the vennel, but suddenly, a moment later you return running toward your first victim and you attack her. In a matter of 4 seconds you stab her repeatedly on the head, neck and body with a knife in a forceful, fast and very violent attack. When the night porter, Mr Robertson, comes out the side door of the hotel to assist, the first victim manages to escape into the hotel. At that this time you attack her friend who was still crouched down and you stab her fast twice in the face.

At this time Mr Robertson tried to stop you and, with courage, confronted you. You struck him with the knife and then ran off to evade the police.

All the victims were severely injured and left with permanent disfigurement and both women were terrified and have been left traumatised.

Your first victim sustained 10 stabs wounds to her head neck and body. This was an attack was clearly to the danger of her life. She has been unable to return to her work and she requires psychological treatment and has lost her income as a result. She is left traumatised and in the care of mental health services.

Your second victim sustained two stab wounds which penetrated her mouth. She has had lengthy and extensive medical and surgical treatment which is ongoing. She is left with considerable disfigurement and difficulties. She too is traumatised.   

This was a frenzied and shocking attack on three separate people which came from nowhere. You did not dispute at trial your attack on your first victim was a murderous one and the jury was satisfied the attack on her friend your second victim, was also a murderous attack. There was no background and no reason for this wicked attack.  There is nothing to excuse your conduct.

You have a criminal record which, whilst not a lengthy one, demonstrates a pattern of serious violence. This includes two High Court convictions. The first in  2005 for assault to the danger of life of your partner by strangulation and a further separate assault involving the presentation of  a knife and then in 2012 for attempted extortion involving the use of a machete, and for an assault which consisted of gouging the victims eyes.

I recognise your conduct is rooted in a childhood of extreme neglect and trauma. That since your teenage years you have led a chaotic alcohol or drug induced existence and that you have been homeless throughout. I accept that in your offer to plead to charge 1 you accepted some responsibility. However the utilitarian value of this plea was of little substance and I make no discount.

On 7 November 2018 I concluded you may meet the risk criterion for an order for lifelong restriction and I ordered that a risk assessment report be prepared. Regrettably it has taken a long time for this report to be produced. This is because of the time needed to seek background information - due in large part to your repeated refusal to co-operate or engage in these proceedings. 

I have now had the opportunity to consider the report. The expert risk assessor has assessed you as presenting a high risk to the safety of the public. I have also heard and I have had regard to the submissions made today by your counsel.

I accept the report had limitations due to your refusal to co-operate but I am satisfied there is sufficient and have regard to the assessor’s view she could provide a reliable assessment. I am satisfied having regard to the nature of these offences and to the evidence and reasons provided in the Report that you meet the risk criteria.  I therefore make an order for lifelong restriction on all the charges of which you were convicted. This order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period.

I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence which is the period which you must spend in prison before you are entitled to be considered for release. In fixing this period I have considered the seriousness of these offences; your criminal record and the issue of a discount – all of which I have already described. Finally, in terms of section 2B of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 I require to reduce this period by one half. This results in a reduction from a period of 12 years to a punishment part of 6 years.

You must not assume that you will automatically be released at the end of this period. You will be released if it is decided that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison. That decision is for the Parole Board.

This sentence will run from the date of your remand, 9 November 2018.”