HMA v GARY SAUNDERS

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Uist imposed an order for lifelong restriction on Gary Saunders after he pled guilty to severe assault at the Sheriff Court. The case was remitted to the High Court for sentence and the punishment part was fixed at six years.

On sentencing Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“You pleaded guilty at your trial hearing in the sheriff court to assaulting Nicholas Cavan and Kristoffer Cavan at a house in Clydebank on 18 December 2012 by grabbing them and repeatedly slashing their heads to their severe injury and permanent disfigurement. You carried out these premeditated and utterly callous assaults with a Stanley knife the day after your release from prison for a crime of violence because you considered that they had been involved in an incident involving your partner’s daughter. You, along with two other men, entered the house where they were. You were wearing a hat and a scarf which partially covered your face. You produced a Stanley knife and calmly, slowly and deliberately drew it down Kristoffer Cavan’s cheek as if it were nothing to you. The wound which you inflicted ran the length of his cheek and required 16 stitches. You thereafter attacked Nicholas Cavan with the knife, first of all nicking his throat and then by slashing him repeatedly on the face. He sustained a 4 cm incised wound to his right ear requiring 12 stitches, an 8 cm wound to his right cheek requiring 15 stitches, a 3 cm wound to his left cheek requiring 7 stitches and had to have a flap of skin which had been severed from the end of his nose glued back in place. Both of your victims will be left with permanent scarring. Their injuries, which are shown in the photographs provided to me, were properly described by the sheriff as horrific. You have a record for crimes of violence and disorder, as well as for offences of possessing a knife.

In January 1998 you were sentenced in the High Court to 3 years imprisonment for assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment. In May 2004 you were sentenced to 3 months imprisonment for possession of a knife. In February 2010 you were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for possession of a knife. In September 2012 you were sentenced to 5 months 14 days imprisonment for assault to injury.

This case should never have been prosecuted in the sheriff court. The decision to prosecute it there is utterly incomprehensible. Fortunately, the sheriff had the good sense to remit it to this court for sentence.

I have considered all the reports on you, including the criminal justice social work report and the risk assessment report, and have taken into account all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation. The risk assessor has assessed you as being at high risk to the safety of the public at large. In light of the circumstances of the crimes to which you pleaded guilty, your criminal record, the contents all the reports and the oral evidence of Dr Baird today I am satisfied that the risk criteria are met in your case. I am so satisfied even if the police intelligence is left out of account. I shall therefore make an order for lifelong restriction in respect of you. That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period. I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to be released on licence. Had I been imposing a fixed sentence in this case it would have been one of 12 years imprisonment with no discount for your plea of guilty at the trial hearing. That would entitle you to apply to be released on licence after spending 6 years in prison. I therefore fix the punishment part of your sentence at 6 years. You must not assume that you will automatically be released from prison at the end of that period: you will be released only when the Scottish Ministers are satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be held in prison.  It is open to me also to make an order that you be returned to prison to serve the outstanding period of your last sentence but, having regard to the sentence which I am now imposing, I shall not do so. Your sentence will run from 21 December 2012”.