HMA v JORDAN PARRY, DARREN MELROSE & CH

At Glasgow Sheriff Court Sheriff Platt sentenced Jordan Parry, Darren Melrose and CH after they pled guilty to breaking into the Clutha Vaults Public House on 17 December 2013 and stealing a quantity of alcohol, cash and charity tins. Jordan Parry and Darren Melrose were sentenced to 6 months detention, and CH was given a Community Payback Order with a supervision requirement for a period of 18 months.

On sentencing Sheriff Platt made the following statement in court:

17th March, 2014

“All three of you have pled guilty to charge (001) in this indictment which is a charge of breaking into the Clutha Vaults Public House on 17 December 2013 and stealing a quantity of alcohol, cash and charity tins.  When the offence was committed, you Jordan Parry and you CH were on bail in respect of other matters.

The Crown has stated that the sum of cash involved is £171.  While that is not a particularly large amount it was, nonetheless, money which was taken from donations, presumably by customers of the public house, to charitable causes.

That in itself makes the theft more serious.

However, it will not have been that aggravation which led the Crown to prosecute this matter on indictment; what will have caused that are the circumstances in which you committed this crime. 

The offence occurred less than three weeks after the public house in question was the site of a serious accident in which 10 people lost their lives.  Accordingly, that you saw fit to commit this offence will have led, no doubt, to feelings of disgust amongst members of the public and that term will go nowhere near describing the emotions felt by those who lost loved ones or friends in the incident. Indeed, the police, who required to investigate this offence, lost two fellow-officers in the incident. 

While the courts are used to dealing with offences with exacerbating features, even those used to dealing with such offences will feel, at best, despair that you should have conducted yourselves in this way. 

If these circumstances were not present it is possible that you might be dealt with by community sentences, notwithstanding that the offence involved breaking into premises and stealing money.  However, you, Jordan Parry, have already been dealt with by Juvenile Courts in England in respect of a variety of offences and you have been dealt with by the imposition of, amongst other disposals, supervision requirements and three rehabilitation orders.  These failed to deter you from offending. 

You, Darren Melrose, also have a number of convictions. These include one at sheriff and jury level for assault to severe injury in respect of which you were given a probation order. You also have a conviction under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act, a conviction for disorder and convictions for breaching bail, as well as having failed to appear in court when ordered to do so.

You, CH, have been dealt with within the Children’s Hearing system. The advice of the Panel is, understandably, that no more can be offered within that system.

The very full and carefully prepared Social Work Reports I have for you make very unhappy reading, not just in relation to your backgrounds, but in relation to your respective attitudes to this offence.  

Some offences are committed in circumstances which aggravate or even outweigh the nature and the gravity of the offence itself. Charge 1 is one such charge.

Mr Parry and Mr Melrose, because of

  • these circumstances
  • your records for offending
  • your respective attitudes to the offence as brought out in the Social Work Reports
  • the lack of respect or empathy, which both the offence and these attitudes disclose, and
  • the need to deter conduct such as you engaged in

the only appropriate sentence in respect of charge 1 is a custodial one; there is no other appropriate way of dealing with the offence other than by a period of detention and there is nothing, other than Mr Parry’s bail order, in respect of which I have decided not to add to his sentence, which causes me to distinguish between you.

In determining the length of that sentence, as well as considering the deterrent and punishment elements of such a sentence, the court also has to have regard to the offence itself, rather than the background circumstances to which I have referred to ensure that the sentence is, in the whole circumstances of the case, proportionate.

The sentence which is appropriate for each of you is 9 months in detention. The law requires that this be reduced to take into account the fact that you both pled guilty. In this case you have done so by section 76 letters. The sentences imposed on you both will therefore be reduced to 6 months in detention back-dated to the date when you were first remanded in custody being the 18th December 2013.   

CH, you require to be considered separately because you are in a different legal position, having been under supervision and therefore a child or juvenile as a matter of law. In addition, you have no adult convictions. Because of these factors, although a custodial sentence would be merited, I do not consider that such a sentence is the only appropriate disposal.

In your case I will, therefore, in respect of charges 1 and 2, as a direct alternative to custody, make a Community Payback Order with a supervision requirement for a period of 18 months. I am told in the Report that you will consent to such an order and you must be aware, therefore, of the conditions attached and the programme arranged by your supervising officer. If you breach the order you will be returned to court and sentenced anew.

To seek to ensure that the order is fully complied with by you, I am going to fix a first Review for 6 weeks hence and I will call for a progress report from your supervising officer for that Review Hearing.”