HMA v DEAN MELNYK AND ANDREW MARTIN BROWN

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 4 June 2014, Lord Armstrong sentenced both Dean Melnyk and Andrew Martin Brown to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 20 years for the murder of Kevin Mackay.

On sentencing Lord Armstrong made the following statement in court:

“On 22 August 2013, Kevin Mackay was assaulted in a house, where he was living temporarily at the time, in a brutal attack which resulted in his death. You, Andrew Brown, pleaded guilty to his murder after some five weeks of evidence. After trial, you, Dean Melnyk, were convicted of his murder.

The evidence presented at your trial indicates that the assault was premeditated and that you set out to find your victim armed with bladed weapons, two large kitchen knives, meaning to do him harm. Having consumed large amounts of alcohol, you travelled from Lockerbie to Ecclefechan specifically for that purpose. This was not a spontaneous incident which happened on the spur of the moment. On the contrary, you acted on the misguided basis that the way to achieve justice, but what in fact was retribution, for the death of your friend caused by an adverse reaction to the drug ecstasy, was to kill the man who had supplied it. You wrongly took justice into your own hands and acted with lawlessness contrary to common social values, the result of which was that a man’s life was viciously ended. Your victim was unarmed. Together, you inflicted over eighty injuries on his body of which some twenty-six were stab wounds. His vital organs, including his heart, lungs, liver and spleen were penetrated. The evidence of the pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination was that, without immediate medical attention, he could not have survived for more than 5-10 minutes.

As I have said, what you did was to take the law into your own hands, with the aim of punishing your victim, in the event fatally, for the death of your friend. If you had not acted as you did, but instead had allowed the course of justice to run as it should have, your victim would not now be dead. It is of the essence of a civilised society that the law treats everyone equally, but by your actions, you prevented that from happening. Those who choose to take the law into their own hands, as you did with such devastating and tragic effect, must recognised that such actions will attract significant custodial sentences.

There are no reasons, whether to do with the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or your lifestyle otherwise, which could possibly justify the taking of another’s life, as you did.

I say, in passing, that I have no doubt that Kevin Mackay’s family have been deeply affected by this. Nothing I can say or do can compensate for their loss and I suspect that no sentence would ever be regarded as sufficient in their eyes.

The only sentence for murder is imprisonment for life. However, I also have to impose a period which must pass before you can apply for parole, known as the punishment part of that sentence. When that period has passed, your release from prison will be a matter for the Parole Board. Even after release, you will be on licence and subject to recall to prison for the rest of your life. In fixing this period, the punishment part, I must reflect the need to punish you for the crime of murder and to deter you and others from committing that crime. 

Andrew Martin Brown

I have listened carefully to what has been said this morning, on your behalf, and I note that you have expressed remorse for your actions. I have read the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, now available, which relates to you. I have also read and noted the content of a victim impact statement from a close member of Kevin Mackay’s family which makes it plain that his death has had a devastating impact.

In addition to pleading guilty to murder, you earlier pleaded guilty, in the course of the trial, to charge 1, a contravention of section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (threatening or abusive behaviour) and charge 3 (attempting to pervert the course of justice).

I note that your criminal record discloses previous convictions but none in relation to crimes of violence.

In respect of charge 1, I sentence you to 18 months imprisonment. In relation to charge 3, I sentence you to 18 months imprisonment. These sentences will run concurrently with each other and both together concurrently with the sentence for charge 2, in respect of the crime of murder, which I am about to impose.

As regards charge 2, the charge of murder, I sentence you to imprisonment for life, to run from 26. 8. 13, being the date on which you were first remanded in custody in relation to these crimes. In having regard to all the circumstances, I must take account of the aggravating factors that this attack was premeditated, that you took the trouble to travel from one town to another in order to carry out the attack, that you obtained long-bladed weapons for the purpose, that your victim was unarmed and in what, at least temporarily, was his home, that a large number of wounds were inflicted in what was an intensely violent attack, and that it was implicit in your motive that you were taking the law into your own hands with the perverse aim of exacting retribution, I fix the punishment part of your sentence at 20 years.

Dean Melnyk

You have been convicted of the murder of Kevin Mackay.

In addition to charge 2, the charge of murder, you were also convicted of charges 1 and 4, charge 4 being a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, the substantial part of which was withdrawn in the course of the trial.

I have listened carefully to what has been said this morning, on your behalf, and I note that you too have expressed remorse for your actions. I also note your personal circumstances and that, at the time you were suffering from a serious reaction to the death of your friend. Against that, having regard to the jury’s verdict, I take account of the evidence led to the effect that the condition from which you were suffering at the time was not such as to influence your conduct or behaviour in the context of the commission of the crime of murder. I have read the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, now available, which relates to you. As I have said, I have also read and noted the content of a victim impact statement from a close member of Kevin Mackay’s family.

I note that you have no previous convictions.

In respect of charge 1, I sentence you to 18 months imprisonment. That sentence will run concurrently with the sentence for charge 2, in respect of the crime of murder, which I am about to impose. In relation to charge 4, I simply admonish you.

As regards charge 2, the charge of murder, I sentence you to imprisonment for life, to run from 26.8.13, being the date on which you were first remanded in custody in relation to these crimes. In fixing the duration of the punishment part of your sentence for this charge, I have had regard to all the circumstances, including your lack of previous convictions, your personal circumstances and the symptoms you were exhibiting at the time. In that latter regard, having regard to the qualification which I have mentioned, I do not intend to differentiate between you and Andrew Brown. I must have regard to the aggravating factors, which apply as equally in your case as to his, which, I repeat, are that this attack was premeditated, that you took the trouble to travel from one town to another in order to carry out the attack, that you obtained long- bladed weapons for the purpose, that your victim was unarmed and in what, at least temporarily, was his home, that a large number of wounds were inflicted in what was an intensely violent attack, and that it was implicit in your motive that you were taking the law into your own hands with the perverse aim of exacting retribution. In your case too, I fix the punishment part at 20 years.”