HMA v NORMAN CARLTON

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Stewart sentenced Norman Carlton to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 22 years after he was found guilty of the murder of Stewart Gillespie and the attempted murder of Robert Joseph Lawther on 3 October 2012 in Paisley .

15 MAY 2013

On sentencing Lord Stewart made the following statement in court:

“Norman Carlton, on 17 April 2013 in the High Court at Glasgow, you were convicted after trial of murder and attempted murder by stabbing.  On that date the mitigation offered was confined to the statement that the deceased victim was himself a convicted murderer. I adjourned the case to obtain a Criminal Justice Social Work Report. When the reporter visited Low Moss Prison for the purpose of the report he was told that you declined to be interviewed, as was your privilege. The reporter has submitted for information the report which was previously obtained by the Sheriff at Paisley in May of last year in connection with another offence. That report contains relevant background and I have had regard to its terms to the extent that will be mentioned in what follows. Mr Murray QC who appears for you today agrees that it is appropriate in the circumstances to have regard to the previous report.

In the present case the jury found that on 3 October 2012 you murdered Stewart Gillespie by repeatedly stabbing him with a knife in the living room of his daughter’s house at 10 Glencairn Road, Paisley. The jury also found that on the same occasion you attempted to murder Robert Lawther, the householder’s former partner and the father of her child, by repeatedly striking him with a knife to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life. The post mortem report on Stewart Gillespie showed that he sustained five stab wounds, two of which penetrated his heart and one of which completely severed the brachial artery in the left upper arm.

You pled self-defence and gave evidence that you had been attacked with the knife by Stewart Gillespie aided by Robert Lawther before you succeeded in taking the knife from Stewart Gillespie and using it against your alleged attackers. The jury clearly rejected your account and must have been left in no doubt that your attack on the victims was an unprovoked act of aggression on your part. The evidence would support the conclusion that you attacked your victims in a fit of anger. This would be consistent with the finding of the previous report that you have a history of impulsivity and poor anger control. The evidence which the jury must have accepted also supports the conclusion that you were armed with a knife but does not allow me to be satisfied that you called at the house with the fixed intention of using the knife. Clearly however your history shows that you can be all too ready to use knives.

I am bound by law to impose a sentence of life imprisonment for murder. In imposing the life sentence I am also required to make an order stating the minimum period which, in effect, you must serve before your case can be referred to the Parole Board for release on licence. This minimum period is called the punishment part. I have to assess the punishment part to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence. The questions of release and public protection will be ones for the Parole Board in due course. In assessing the punishment part I am bound to take into account the seriousness of the offence combined with the other offence of which you have been convicted on this indictment. I must also take into account any previous convictions.

The  notice of previous convictions produced by the Crown shows that you have a significant record: in 1997  at the age of 13 you were convicted in the High Court of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement and sentenced to 18 months detention; in 2001 at the age of 17 you were convicted in the High Court of culpable homicide and given an extended sentence comprising eight years detention with a three year extension — the previous report informs me that on that occasion as well you stabbed your victim and that he died from internal bleeding; between 2004 and 2006 you were convicted at summary level of two assaults and one breach of the peace; in 2007 you were convicted by sheriff and jury of robbery with a knife — again I am informed by the previous report that this offence was committed while you were on licence and resulted in your recall from licence; and there was another breach of the peace conviction on 17 April 2012.  You were released on licence on 14 July 2006 and recalled from licence on 25 August 2006 to serve out the balance of your 2001 High Court sentence. You were finally released on 29 March 2012. The previous report informs me that you committed the breach of the peace for which you were given a community disposal on 14 April 2012, about two weeks after your release. I assume that you were still subject to the community payback order when you committed the present crimes. You were first remanded in custody in connection with the present crimes on 8 October 2012.

I note from the previous report that you had a disrupted early life, that you were taken into care at the age of three years, that you spent your childhood in a variety of placements until you were remanded into a secure unit at the age of twelve following the incident that led to your first conviction in the High Court.

Norman Carlton I sentence you to life imprisonment on charge 1 as I am bound to do; and having regard to all relevant circumstances both aggravating and mitigatory including the brief plea in mitigation presented today by Mr Murray QC on your behalf I order that you serve a punishment part of 22 years in respect of your conviction on that charge backdated to 8 October 2012 the date when you were remanded in custody. In respect of your conviction on charge 2 I sentence you to be imprisoned for nine years. I order that the sentences imposed on charges 1 and 2 are to run concurrently and are to be backdated to 8 October 2012 the date when you were taken into custody”.