HMA v DAVID MILLIGAN

Lord Turnbull sentenced David Milligan to eight years in prison after he pled guilty to culpable homicide.

On sentencing Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court:

"You have pled guilty to an act of violence which took the life of a man in his fifties. It is clear from the victim impact statements which I have been provided with that his death has had a profound and lasting effect on the other members of his family, as one would expect in such circumstances.

There can be occasions when death results in unexpected circumstances as a consequence of a minor incident. On such occasions the court may rightly exercise leniency. I do not consider this to be such an incident. Nor do I consider that the background circumstances which I should take account of provide any basis for the exercise of leniency.

This was not a minor incident on a flat surface resulting in an injury out of proportion to the events. You and Mr Black seem to have been in the process of descending a flight of some 15 steps with a landing at the bottom and further steps beyond that.

Although it is said that you were likely nearer the bottom than the top of the flight when the incident occurred, to punch someone in such circumstances raises the obvious likelihood that they would be propelled down the remaining flight and thus land with force.

Having characterised the violence used in that fashion I turn to look at the surrounding circumstances.

Mr Black was dragged to an outside lane and abandoned there whilst plainly badly injured but still alive. He was abandoned outside in the early hours of a mid-winter morning without, at that stage, making any effort to call for assistance.

As if that was not enough you scavenged from his body as he lay unable to assist himself.

I was told by Mr Findlay that you are now remorseful over the events. If that is true there was no sign of that in the aftermath of the event. The account of your discussion with your mother at 5.58 in the morning makes it clear that at that time you were proud of yourself and gave an account of the level of violence used which was either greatly exaggerated to boost your own ego, or is indicative of a quite different incident which you have subsequently sought to minimise. Neither version raises any grounds for sympathy.

All of this conduct on your part has also to be seen in the context of your record of previous convictions. Now aged 31 you first came before the court at the age of 16. In the years since you have been convicted of a range of offences, involving public disorder, dishonesty, violence and drug abuse.

By my reading of your record, other than when you were serving a custodial sentence, you have appeared before the courts for various matters every single year since your first conviction at age 16 until now.

You have been convicted on 10 previous occasions for offences of assault and have been sentenced to periods of imprisonment on a number of occasions. None of these previous experiences have caused you to refrain from violent behaviour when it suited you.

The whole circumstances of the killing which you have pled guilty to as seen in the context of your background satisfies me that there is indeed no room for leniency in this case.

I will though take account of the fact that you offered to plead guilty in terms which have now been accepted by the crown. That plea has an obvious benefit and a utilitarian value. For that reason I will restrict the sentence which I would otherwise have imposed.

Taking account of the fact that this was an offence both of killing and of robbery I would have imposed a sentence of 10 years imprisonment. In light your plea of guilty I will restrict that to a period of 8 years to date from 28 January 2013."