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Sentencing Statements

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In cases where there is public interest or where the sentence may be complicated or controversial, the judge may decide to make the sentencing statement more widely available. You can read the judge’s full statement here once sentence has been passed.

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HMA v John Robert Gribben

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 28 February 2018, Judge Sean Murphy QC sentenced John Gribben to six years’ detention after the accused was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and dangerous driving.

On sentencing, Judge Murphy made the following statement in court:

“John Gribben, you have been convicted of two of the most serious motoring offences in our law. On the evening of 30 January 2017 you set out to engage in a race with Logan Knox on a public road.

It was dark, the section of road was for the most part single carriageway and you both drove at grossly excessive speeds, overtaking other traffic and courting obvious risks and dangers.

“As a result of what you both were doing, Logan Knox lost control of his car and collided with a vehicle travelling on the opposite carriageway which was carrying two innocent women home from a music rehearsal. Joan Price was killed and Gillian Kay was severely injured. 

“Your immature, dangerous and irresponsible behaviour has destroyed one life and seriously damaged another. You have brought catastrophe to the family and friends of Mrs Price.

“The victim impact statements in this case are among the most distressing I have ever had to read. Because of what you and Logan Knox did together Mrs Price’s husband had to telephone each of his daughters in turn to tell them that their mother had been killed in the crash.

“Your own behaviour at the scene was in my view reprehensible. You made no attempt whatsoever to provide any assistance. You simply collected the other driver and left. 

“Judging by the terms of the criminal justice social work report you still seem in part to deny responsibility for what happened and claim that you were only racing for a brief distance after Whitletts Roundabout. That is plainly inaccurate.

“The other drivers on the road that night who testified all considered that the two cars had been racing each other. The footage recorded by the camera on board Mr McVicar’s lorry clearly showed Logan Knox’s car overtaking him at a very high speed and then, once other traffic in the opposite carriageway had passed, your vehicle was seen to overtake him also at very high speed and to set off after the Golf. The lorry had progressed some distance from Whitletts Roundabout before that happened. 

“Turning to the second charge, once again the occupants of the other vehicles which had been on the road on 31 March 2017 thought that the two cars they described in their evidence had been racing each other. On this occasion you were the one who lost control so that you collided with Mrs Mulholland’s car from behind.

“By this time your vehicle had been examined and photographed by the police and you had been placed on petition in relation to the events of 30 January. In these circumstances it is staggering to any right-thinking person that you would again engage in such behaviour on a public road. 

“This reflects self-centred, irresponsible and immature behaviour of substantial proportions.

“In passing sentence I must take these considerations into account. The court recognises its responsibility to protect the public by punishing your behaviour and by seeking to deter others from acting in the same way in the future. 

“I take into account your young age, your relative lack of driving experience and, perhaps most importantly of all, the facts that you have not previously offended but rather have been an otherwise sensible member of your local community who left school to take up a good apprenticeship which you had almost completed but are now set to lose.

“The character references provided to the court indicate that you are in general a person who is willing to give his time voluntarily to help others out, in the local community, and that you have assisted with local charities in the past, all of which is to your credit.

“The recommendations in the criminal justice social work report are not well founded in my view in relation to post-release supervision, but, as I indicated on the last occasion, a custodial sentence is inevitable.

“Weighing up all of the factors to which I have just referred, the sentence of the court in relation to the first charge is that you be detained for a period of four years from today. 

“In relation to the third charge on the indictment you will be detained for a period for two years which will be served consecutively to the sentence which I have just imposed for the first charge to reflect the fact that you made no attempt to modify your behaviour behind the wheel of your car in the aftermath of the fatal incident.

“In relation to both charges you will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of 12 years, which will run from the date of interim disqualification, i.e. 1 February 2018; you will also be required to sit the extended test of competency before you can drive again.”