HMA v JAMIE ELLIS

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Glennie sentenced Jamie Ellis to detention after he pled guilty to murdering Alami Gotip on the 25 May 2011 in Livingston. The punishment party was fixed at fifteen years.

On sentencing Lord Glennie made the following statement in court:

“You have pled guilty to the murder of Alami Gotip. 

It is not profitable to speculate as to why you did this.  You professed to love her, and jealousy of her relationship with her former partner and the father of her two young children may have played a part.  It may be that you felt got at, being unfairly criticized while you were cooking the meal for an evening in.

But, as you yourself must know, none of this is any excuse for what you did that night.  The truth is that you had taken a large amount of valium that afternoon and had been smoking cannabis.  It was for you, in your own words, a “normal” day.  You completely lost control when Ms Gotip criticised you.  You came through from the kitchen while she was sitting down, and subjected her to a brutal and frenzied attack with kitchen knives, stabbing her 30 or 40 times.  You left the house, leaving Ms Gotip lying dead on the floor, and leaving her two young children asleep upstairs.

Your action has not only taken the life of the person you say you loved.  It has deprived her two young children of their mother.  And it has robbed Ms Gotip’s own mother of the support on which she had come to depend. 

Although you are only 18, you already have a record of violent offending, for which you have served a period of detention.  It is clear to me on the basis of that record, and on the basis of the Social Work Report, that the public is at high risk of you re-offending and causing serious harm to others.

Because you are under 21, the sentence for murder is detention without limit of time.  I have to fix a punishment part, which specifies a period of detention before which you cannot even be considered for parole. 

I have taken account of everything that has been said on your behalf: your age; your genuine remorse; your understanding of the devastating consequences of your action; and the difficulties in your upbringing from an early age, the lack of family support.  I also take account of the fact that you turned yourself in to the police that evening and have pled guilty at the first opportunity.

Having regard, particularly, to the frenzy of the attack on Ms Gotip, the use of knives, and the impact on Ms Gotip’s young children (who you knew or must have known were upstairs in the house) I would have fixed that punishment part at 18 years.  I am required, however, to reduce that period to some extent to take account of your early plea of guilty.  Although in the circumstances you had little alternative but to plead guilty, I am persuaded that your early plea has avoided the further distress which a trial would have caused.  Taking all that into account, I fix the punishment part at 15 years.  I emphasise, as your counsel explained, that this simply means that you will not even be considered for parole before the end of that period.  It does not mean that you will necessarily be released then.

In the result, therefore, the sentence of the court is detention without limit of time, with a punishment part fixed at 15 years.  The punishment part will be backdated to 27 May 2011, when you first appeared on petition”.