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HMA v PAUL GIBSON

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Boyd imposed an order for lifelong restriction on Paul Gibson with a punishment part of 6 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of a number of robberies in West Lothian between February 2011 and March 2012.

On sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement in court.

14 March 2014

“Between February 2011 and March 2012 you committed 5 robberies and 1 attempted robbery in local shops in Livingston and Armadale, West Lothian. One shop you robbed on 3 occasions. In each of the completed robberies you threatened staff with a knife. One member of staff had the misfortune to be your victim on 2 occasions.

While none of the staff involved were physically hurt it was clear to me that they were all traumatised to some extent by the experience. You will have seen on the CCTV footage and heard from the 999 calls the extent of their distress. For all of them it seems to have been a terrifying ordeal. The psychological injuries that you inflicted will vary from person to person but in general it was considerable.

You are man with a history of violence. You have a High Court conviction for attempted murder which appears to have been a premeditated act of revenge perpetrated with another. You have another High Court conviction for assault to severe injury and danger of life. You have a number of other convictions for assault and dishonesty. Your last High Court conviction was for assault and robbery for which you received a sentence of 80 months imprisonment extended for 3 years. Significantly that conviction included one for robbery of one the shops which you robbed again this time round. That sentence is due to expire on 15th May 2015.

As Mr Farrell said on your behalf many of the reports and assessments that have been made about you over the years have been particularly positive. You appear to have coped well in prison and after an initial hesitant start responded well to supervision in the community. You have a family to whom you were committed. All of these are positive and protective factors that I take into account.

However I have to assess whether or not you there is a likelihood that, if at liberty, you will seriously endanger the lives, or physical or psychological well being of members of the public at large. I have taken into account the risk assessment report and the evidence that I heard today, including that of Mrs Ross on your behalf.

I accept the evidence that you have had a troubled upbringing and that you were the subject of significant sexual abuse when you were aged 12. Mrs Ross has diagnosed that, as a result, you are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. That diagnosis is questioned by other professionals, including it appears by those who have had more contact with you.

It is not necessary for me to reach a conclusion as to whether or not the diagnosis is correct or not. It is clear that PTSD can result in what is termed hyper-vigilance which can in turn lead to violent offending. It may also give rise to substance abuse and that can fuel violent offending behaviour. The characteristics of such offending is in general that it is reactive and impulsive and not planned.

The significant offending in the past was planned. These robberies were also planned. They mostly took place in the early evening when the shops were quieter. You went into the shops with your face masked and armed with a knife. In the meantime you were able to deceive those whose responsibility it was to supervise you in the community that you were abiding by the terms of your licence, that you were making progress and addressing your offending behaviour - so much so that they downgraded the assessment of the risk from high to medium. The factors which ordinarily might have been cited in your favour were clearly not working. I cannot say that if you were at liberty under supervision you would still not pose a risk to the public.

I have concluded that the risk criteria are met. That being the case I will make an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

I require to set a punishment part. If I were to have passed a determinate sentence it would have been for 12 years. I will therefore set the punishment part at 6 years.

Since you were on licence at the time I need to consider whether or not to make an order under section 16 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act returning you to prison to complete the rest of your sentence. Having regard to the order I have just made I will not make such an order. However I will restrict the backdating of the sentence to the date of your conviction on these charges. Accordingly the sentence will run from 5th July 2013.”

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