HMA v GRAHAM JAMES SNEDDON

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Pentland imposed an order for lifelong restriction on Graham James Sneddon after he pled guilty to three charges under s38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

26 May 2014

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court: 

“I have carefully considered all the voluminous information in the present case, including the evidence given today and the submissions of counsel. Having done so I have concluded that the risk criteria are satisfied and that the protection of the public requires that an order for lifelong restriction be imposed. The comprehensive risk assessments carried out by two eminent psychologists leave no room for doubt that the accused presents a high risk to public safety. Where there is any difference between the evidence given by Professor Cooke and the accused, I prefer the former. 

I should explain to the accused that the sentence I intend to impose constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. This type of sentence means that you could only be released from prison in the event that the Parole Board could be satisfied that your release would not endanger public safety. 

The law requires me to set a minimum term of imprisonment (referred to as the punishment part of your sentence). This is the minimum period you must serve before the Parole Board can consider your case. 

I must start by considering what would have been appropriate determinate sentences for your offences, ignoring any period of confinement necessary for the protection of the public. I then have to consider what discount is appropriate to take account of your early pleas of guilty. Then I require to make allowance for the rules on early release. 

In the present case there are three charges on the indictment, which was of course originally brought in the Sheriff Court. On charge 1 the determinate sentence I would have imposed would have been 3 years imprisonment, of which 2 years would have been imposed for the purposes of retribution and deterrence. I would have discounted that period to a term of 20 months to reflect your early plea of guilty.  

On charge 2 (a more serious charge) I would have imposed a determinate sentence after trial of 4 years imprisonment.  I would have regarded the period of 3 years imprisonment as appropriate for the purposes of retribution and deterrence.  I would have reduced the sentence to one of 30 months imprisonment to take account of your early plea of guilty. 

I am persuaded that it would have been appropriate for the sentences on charges 1 and 2 to run concurrently with one another. 

These sentences would have been fixed after taking into account the period of time you had spent in custody on remand.  

So far as charge 3 is concerned, I would have made the determinate sentence a term of imprisonment for one year. 8 months of that would have been for the purposes of retribution and deterrence. To reflect your early plea of guilty, I would have reduced that period to one of 6 months.

I consider that it would have been appropriate to order that the sentence on charge 3 should run consecutively to the sentences on charges 1 and 2. 

That gives a notional total sentence of 36 months imprisonment for the purposes of the first stage of calculating the duration of the punishment part. 

I then have to consider the effect of the early release rules. You would have been entitled to be released on licence after serving 18 months in custody. 

So the punishment part of the order for lifelong restriction in your case will be 18 months. 

I shall backdate the lifelong restriction order to 7 June 2013. 

It is important that you understand that you are not entitled to be released upon the expiry of the punishment part of your sentence. As I have said, you will be released only if and when the Parole Board is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be held in prison.”