HMA v Robert Letham

At the High Court in Glasgow today (17 October 2017) Lady Rae sentenced Robert Letham to life imprisonment (punishment part 22 years and 3 months) after the accused was found guilty of murder and a number of other offences. On sentencing Lady Rae made the following statement in court:

You have been found guilty by the jury of what has been described as a cold blooded, premeditated murder of a young man.  Having heard all of the evidence and having viewed the CCTV footage which captured the actual killing I would agree with that description.

This was a vicious, senseless attack on a 20 year old man.  Not satisfied with fatally stabbing Steven Russell, you then chased him until he collapsed and assaulted another young man by attempting to strike him with the same knife you used on Mr Russell. 

Thereafter you disposed of evidence and travelled out of this jurisdiction to avoid facing up to what you had done.

 You have an unenviable schedule of previous convictions.  There are 46 separate convictions representing 76 separate offences.  Significantly, several involve violence and at least four involve the possession of sharp weapons. Thirty nine of your offences were committed while you were on bail and that is significant when one considers that the crimes I have to deal with were committed while you were on 2 separate bail orders.  It is obvious you have no regard whatsoever for the conditions of bail orders.

 In respect of the murder charge, there is only one sentence which I can impose and that is life imprisonment.

 I require now to make an order setting what is called a punishment part, that is, the minimum period of time which you require to serve in prison to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence. Having regard to the nature of the other charges, your record of offending and your blatant disregard for bail conditions I intend to take all of these factors into account when assessing an appropriate punishment part and consequently I shall increase the period which I would otherwisehave imposed on charge 1 although I acknowledge that any enhancement must reflect only the elements of retribution and deterrence.  In view of that increase I shall impose a concurrent sentence on the other charges.

 The effect of this will be that you will not be eligible for parole or release until the whole of the punishment part has expired.  Thereafter it will be for the Parole Board and the Parole Board alone to consider whether you still present a risk to the public, or, whether you can be released on a life licence with appropriate conditions.  If you are still considered a serious risk, after the punishment part has expired, you will not be released. 

 I shall deal with the charges 2, 3 and 4 first:-

In respect of charge 2 the sentence will be 2 years imprisonment and 6 months with 6 months attributable to the bail aggravations.

On charge 3 the sentence will be 3 years and 6 months with 6 months attributable to the bail aggravations.

The sentence on charge 4 will be 18 months with 6 months attributable to the bail aggravations.

 The sentences on charges 2, 3 and 4 will run concurrently with each other and concurrently with the punishment part I am about to impose.

To be clear- the sentences imposed on the other charges do not reflect the level of the enhancement of the punishment part.

I have assessed  that enhancement  to reflect only the elements of retribution and deterrence.  That enhancement is 15 months.

On charge one you will be sentenced to life imprisonment and in view the nature of this attack, your record of previous convictions, the circumstances of the other separate charges and your repeated breaches of bail - the punishment part I shall impose is 22 years and 3 months with the 3 months reflecting the bail aggravations.

 These sentences will date from 27 February 2017 when you were first remanded in custody.