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HMA v JAMES DOUGLAS FERGUSON

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Uist imposed an order for lifelong restriction on James Douglas Ferguson after he pled guilty to assaults and theft in June 2012 in East Lothian. The punishment part was fixed at 2 years and 3 months.

On sentencing Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“You pleaded guilty to four crimes of violence and the crime of attempted theft, committed in Tranent in June and July last year when you were subject to the unexpired portion of a sentence of imprisonment, having been released from prison on 30 May. The first crime of violence consisted of assaulting a man in the street at 1.30 am on 2 June by repeatedly striking him with a screwdriver to his injury. The second crime consisted of assaulting the same man and his friend in the street on 13 June. You struck one of the men with a knife on the hand and then chased both of them while carrying the knife. The third crime consisted of seizing a third man by the neck and repeatedly attempting to stab him with a Stanley knife on 25 June. The fourth crime consisted of assaulting a woman by threatening her with violence and holding a knife against her head to her injury and robbing her of a mobile phone and house keys.

You are now 30 years of age. I have read the social work and risk assessment reports on you and considered all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation. The two reports make for very depressing reading. You have never been in employment as an adult. It is clear from your criminal history and the circumstances of the crimes for which I am dealing with you today that you are not averse to carrying and using offensive weapons. You have in the past breached bail and other court orders. As recently as December 2010 you were convicted of, among other things, five charges of assault while on bail. You have abused drugs and committed crimes in order to obtain money to buy drugs. The social worker has reported that there is a high risk of imminent reoffending on your release and assessed you as presenting a high risk of harm to others through physical violence. The risk assessor has assessed you as being at medium risk to the safety of the public at large on the basis that, although you present with a number of risk factors related to violent offending, you have the willingness, and potentially the capacity, to engage in appropriate treatment and there is reason to believe that you may be amenable to change. The latter view is not one that I share in view of your history: almost everything has been attempted to stop you committing crime, but regrettably without success.

I am satisfied from all the material before me that you are a violent and dangerous man who meets the risk criteria. I therefore make an order for lifelong restriction in respect of you. That constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period. I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to be released on licence. Had you been convicted by a jury after trial and had I been imposing a fixed sentence on charges 1, 3, 6 and 10 taken together, I would have imposed a sentence of 6 years imprisonment. That sentence falls to be discounted by reason of your guilty pleas at a preliminary hearing to 4 years 6 months imprisonment, which would entitle you to apply to be released on licence after having served 2 years 3 months. I therefore fix the punishment part of your sentence on those charges at 2 years 3 months imprisonment. I must emphasise that it does not automatically follow that you will be released at the end of the punishment part of your sentence: you will be released only when the Parole Board for Scotland decides that it is no longer necessary for the safety of the public that you should continue to be held in prison. On charge 11 I impose a concurrent sentence of 18 months imprisonment, discounted from 2 years imprisonment for your early plea. Your sentences will run from 18 July 2012.”

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