HMA v PAUL JAMES BALGOWAN & JULIE ANN CARROLL

Today at the High Court in Glasgow Lord Mathews imposed extended sentences on Paul Balgowan and Julie Ann Carroll following their conviction for the culpable homicide of Alan Bennett on the 30 May 2008 at Oldmill Road, Aberdeen.

On sentencing Lord Mathews made the following statement in court:

“You have both been convicted of the culpable homicide of Alan Bennett but the circumstances of your convictions are very different.

You, Julie Ann Carroll, accepted your guilt by tendering a plea during the course of the trial and thereafter giving evidence which assisted the Crown in the presentation of its case against your co-accused.

You, Paul James Balgowan, offered to plead guilty to culpable homicide at a preliminary hearing and had that offer been accepted you would have been entitled to a discount in the sentence ultimately imposed. It was not accepted and your position was not maintained throughout the proceedings.

Indeed you proceeded to trial seeking an acquittal having initially lodged a special defence of self defence and then on the morning of the trial withdrawing that and lodging a notice seeking to lead evidence calculated to exculpate you by incriminating your co-accused. That was the basis on which the trial was conducted and indeed was the thrust of the evidence which you gave and the submissions of your counsel.

Your counsel has indeed confirmed today that your position that you were guilty of culpable homicide was not maintained throughout the trial. The evidence you gave and the submissions he made were rejected by the jury who could only have convicted you on the basis that yours was the hand holding the knife when it entered the body of the deceased. In my opinion, your position falls foul of one of the principal criteria for the application of a discount set out in the cases of Spence and Simpson, namely that your position be maintained throughout. It is true that in Simpson a discount of one tenth was ultimately afforded on appeal but the evidence in that case which ultimately lead to the conviction on the basis of provocation was broadly the same as was relied on in relation to the defence of self defence. We are not in that territory here.

I have read the social enquiry reports on each of you and listened to the submissions of your counsel. I have also heard something of the impact of this offence on the widow of the deceased. It goes without saying that what happened that night will remain with her forever.

The evidence disclosed that the two of you for some time were involved in a scheme whereby you Julie Ann Carroll offered your services to clients for the purposes of prostitution knowing that you Paul James Balgowan would interrupt the transaction ultimately with a knife or bottle and take the money which had been paid without any such services having been delivered. I accept that this was all done for the purposes of feeding your drug addiction.

I do not sentence you for what happened in the past but only what happened on this occasion. No-one will know apart from you what precisely took place in the lane but it appears that Mr Bennett fought back. Thereafter you Paul James Balgowan struck him repeatedly with the knife which you brought with you and which you then took away from the scene. In consequence of these blows he died. Your plea, Julie Ann Carroll, was, in short, on the basis that you did not know that the knife would be used to such effect and that you did not use it yourself. That position was accepted by the Crown.

The sentences to be imposed for culpable homicide can vary greatly. In your case Paul James Balgowan I consider that your guilt lies at the upper range and that the offence itself and the information in the social enquiry report show that the public needs to be protected from serious harm from you on your release. I will impose an extended sentence on you in two parts, the first a custodial element and the second an extension period during which you will be subject to the conditions of a licence, breach of which may result in recall to prison.

In your case, Julie Ann Carroll, your guilt is significantly less than that of your co-accused but must nonetheless be visited by a substantial sentence, also consisting of a custodial element and an extension period to protect the public from serious harm from you on your release. What I have said about conditions also applies to you.

Paul James Balgowan, your sentence will run from 2 June 2009, The custodial element will be 13 years imprisonment and the extension period 2 years thereafter.

Julie Ann Carroll, in your case the sentence will run from 9 March 2010. The custodial element will be 6 years and 11 months. It would have been 8 years but for the time earlier spent on remand. The extension period will be 2 years also. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not apply any discount to your sentence”.