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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 DOCHERTY

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Stewart sentenced John Docherty to life imprisonment with a punishement part of 21 years after he was found guilty of the murder of Elaine Doyle in June1986.

On sentencing Lord Stewart made the following statement in court:

“JOHN DOCHERTY, on 17 June 2014 in the High Court at Edinburgh after a trial of 52 days you were convicted by a majority verdict of the jury of the murder of Elaine Doyle. Elaine Doyle’s naked body was found on 2 June 1986 in a lane off Ardgowan Street, Greenock, yards from her home. Elaine Doyle was sixteen years old at the time and you were 21. The evidence at trial showed the killing to have been a brutal one.

The victim statements from Elaine’s mother and her brother confirm the terrible effect on the family of the killing itself and of the years of uncertainty that followed while the crime remained unsolved.

In the years since the killing you have not once come to the attention of the courts. You have been continuously in employment since 1988. You served with the Royal Engineers for eight years. You then returned to Greenock where, ever since, you have been employed by the local authority. Your most recent job has been as a driver for children with additional support needs. Since 1995 you have been in a relationship with your current partner. You and your partner have a daughter together who is now four years old.

You continue to maintain your innocence which necessarily means that there is no explanation for the crime. As Mr Findlay has stated and as you understand I have to sentence you according to the verdict of the jury.

The punishment for murder is laid down by law. It is life imprisonment subject to the possibility of release on licence at some stage. My task is to fix the so-called punishment part which is the term of years you must serve before you are eligible to be considered for release on licence.

Taking into account all the information that has been brought to my attention I sentence you to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 21 years, the sentence to be backdated to the 17 June 2014, the date of your conviction, when you were first remanded in custody”.