HMA v GARY TRAVERS

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Pentland imposed an eight year extended sentence on Gary Travers with a custodial part of four years imprisonment after he pled guilty to assault at Airdrie Sheriff Court on 9 April 2013.

12 September 2013

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

“Gary Travers, you have pled guilty to an indictment served under section 76 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 containing a single charge of assault.  The background to the offence is that on 9 April 2013 you were due to appear from custody in Airdrie Sheriff Court.  You refused to leave your cell for the hearing.  In view of this attitude of defiance on your part, the Sheriff decided to convene the court in the cell corridor so that, in fairness to you, your application for bail could be properly dealt with.  The Sheriff, accompanied by the Procurator Fiscal Depute, your solicitor, the Sheriff Clerk, two police officers and a security officer attended in the corridor outside your cell.  The cell door was locked, but the hatch was left open so that you could follow the proceedings and so that the court could communicate with you.

After a short hearing the Sheriff informed you that he was refusing your application for bail.  Your reaction to this judicial decision was to throw the contents of a cup through the open hatch at the Sheriff.  The cup contained a quantity of your urine.  The urine struck the Sheriff on his face, on his upper clothing and trousers and some of the urine entered his mouth.  The urine also struck some of the other persons in the corridor.  Understandably, those affected were shocked and disgusted by your conduct. 

I note that you have a very lengthy criminal record dating back to 1992.  You have committed numerous offences of dishonesty and disorder and you have repeatedly failed to comply with a variety of court orders.  You have received community-based disposals, of which you have failed to take advantage, and you have been given a number of custodial penalties.  At the time of committing the present offence you were on licence in respect of an unexpired sentence of 3 years imprisonment imposed on you in August 2010.  It is clear from all this that you are an incorrigible criminal who has no respect whatsoever for the law or for other people.

You are now 38 years old.  The criminal justice social work report explains that you have experienced certain difficulties in your life and that you have a dysfunctional personality, but none of this can justify or excuse your sustained criminality.  You are assessed as presenting a very high risk of further offending. Whatever sense of frustration or grievance you may have felt with the way in which the justice system had treated you, those feelings cannot be regarded as providing the slightest excuse for your conduct at the time of the present offence.

The present offence represented not just a disgraceful assault on a member of the judiciary in the execution of his judicial responsibilities; it amounted also to an attack on the administration of justice.  Members of the judiciary and all those who work in the courts must be protected from the sort of outrageous conduct in which you chose to engage on this occasion.  It is important that those who might be disposed to seek to undermine the fair and proper administration of justice by violent, threatening or disrespectful behaviour are left in no doubt that they will be severely punished when brought to justice. 

In the circumstances it is clear that I must take an extremely serious view of this offence, particularly against the background of your appalling record of previous offending.

In the first place, I shall order that you be returned to prison to complete the whole of the unexpired portion of the sentence to which you were subject at the time of the present offence. That is a period of 140 days. That will run from today

I turn then to the sentence I intend to impose for the present offence. 

I am in no doubt that the protection of the public requires that an extended sentence is imposed on you.  The first part of this is custodial.  Had you not pled guilty, I would have made the custodial part of the extended sentence 5 years.  I do not accept that this is a case where a sentencing discount in the order of one third is merited.  The reality of matters is that the evidence against you was wholly unanswerable and overwhelming; accordingly you had no real option other than to plead guilty. I acknowledge, however, that since a trial did not take place there was some saving to the public purse and witnesses were not inconvenienced by having to testify. Taking account of all the relevant circumstances and in the exercise of the discretion vested in me, I shall discount the custodial part of your extended sentence to 4 years imprisonment in view of your guilty plea.

In selecting this part of the extended sentence I have taken account of the time you have already spent on remand for the present offence.

The second part of the custodial sentence is called the extension part.  During this period of time you will be subject to close monitoring, supervision and control so that the risk you present to the public can be contained and so that you can, I hope, be rehabilitated with appropriate support from qualified professionals.  In view of the high level of risk you present to the public I shall make the extension part 3 years.

I have to make it clear to you that if you breach any of the terms of your release licence during the extension period you are liable to be returned to prison.

The extended sentence will start to run once you have served the unexpired portion of the sentence to which you were subject at the time of committing the present offence.”