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HMA v EWAN DOW

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Turnbull sentenced Ewan Dow to life imprisonment after he pled guilty to the murder of Daniel Turner. The punishment part of the sentence was fixed at 18 years and six months.

On sentencing Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court:

“You have pled guilty to the crime of murder. The punishment for that crime is fixed by law as life imprisonment and that is the sentence which I will impose. That sentence will date from 21 October 2013. 

Persons sentenced to life imprisonment may become eligible for release on licence. Whether they ever are actually released on licence is a decision made, not by the court, but by the Parole Board for Scotland. So in addition to imposing the sentence of imprisonment for life my responsibility at this stage is to identify the period, known as the punishment part, which must elapse before you will even be entitled to be considered for release by the Parole Board.

In order to assess that period I must take account of the whole circumstances surrounding your offence. Whilst you are a young man you have been convicted on 3 previous occasions of crimes of assault. On the last of those occasions the assault of which you were convicted was associated with the possession of a knife.

It is also clear that in the hours preceding the murder of Daniel Turner you were behaving in a drunken and aggressive manner. Whilst in the flat at 34 Greenlaw Crescent you were conducting yourself in a threatening and frightening manner. It is clear that at some point after the others present had left, you decided that you were going to inflict serious violence on Daniel Turner, that is the only inference which can be drawn from the terms of the messages which you sent.

It is equally clear that you had no justification for holding such an intention, nor even any reason for doing so. You had simply decided that you would vent your frustrations and anger and that he was to serve as the victim for that purpose. He was presumably selected on account of his placid and amenable manner.

To cause someone’s death by the deliberate violent use of a long bladed fatal weapons such as a knife in such circumstances would be a despicable form of behaviour, conduct that would be incomprehensible to most people. However, what you then went on to do was truly horrific. The description of your attack on Mr Turner reflects a level of determined brutality which must be responded to severely. I can only imagine that the infliction of so many wounds on a defenceless young man must mean that you kept on stabbing him until you reached the stage where you had exhausted yourself with the effort involved.

All murders are, of course, terrible in their consequences for the victims and for their families. However the selection of an appropriate punishment part will vary according to the features of the case which either aggravate or mitigate the particular conduct. In my view there is little to mitigate your conduct and there are a number of aspects of your conduct which aggravate the fact that you took another’s life. All that can really be said in your favour is that you have accepted your guilt at an early stage and I will take account of that fact in determining the eventual period of the punishment part.

Given that you decided in advance, with no form of provocation, that you were going to inflict wounds with a fatal weapon on an innocent young man, and then did so 171 times, I have concluded that this should be treated as an exceptionally serious case of its type. Therefore whilst it will be for the Parole Board to determine whether you should ever be re-released into the community I would have ordered that a period of 22 years should elapse before you would be entitled to ask them to consider the question of your release. In light of your early plea I will restrict that to a period of 18 ½ years”.