HMA v MARK BARCLAY aka FRASER

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 20 August 2014, Lord Uist sentenced Mark Barclay aka Fraser to four years and six months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a former partner by strangling her.

On sentencing, Lord Uist made the following statement in court: 

“Mark Tracy Allan Barclay known as Fraser, you were convicted by the jury at Aberdeen High Court on 18 July 2014 of assaulting your former partner to her injury and to the danger of her life on 28 November 2013 by placing a scarf around her neck and tightening it thereby restricting her breathing, struggling with her and knocking her to the floor. You had previously tendered a guilty plea in these terms at a preliminary hearing on 28 March of this year. 

The evidence revealed that you called unexpectedly at your former partner’s home at a time when you had not spoken to each other for three months. While she was standing in the living room you suddenly and without warning put your scarf round her neck from behind and proceeded to tighten it and strangle her. You pulled her back and she began to panic and tried to pull the scarf away from her throat. She ended up on the floor, turning blue and unable to breathe. She thought she was going to die. 

The injuries which you caused her are shown in the photographs produced by the Crown. She had tender purple bruising in a band 2 cm wide round her neck and petechial haemorrhages under both eyes, more marked on the left. The doctor who examined her stated that these are usually caused by prolonged neck constriction caused by the application of pressure to the ligature. He also stated that neck compression is hazardous to life and may cause sudden death by reflex cardiac inhibition or by asphyxiation. 

You subsequently wrote to your former partner from prison on 9 December 2013 stating that you weren’t going to murder her, you just had to give her a scare. In view of the danger to life arising from ligature strangulation such as that in which you engaged you are fortunate that the consequences were not fatal and that you are not now facing sentence on a charge of murder. 

You are now 43 years old. You have a criminal record dating from November 1997 for 13 summary offences and have never previously been sentenced to imprisonment. Although you stated in the course of your evidence that you had never assaulted your ex-partner you were convicted on 29 September 2000 of assaulting her by grabbing her by the shoulders. I have considered the criminal justice social work report on you and all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation. You must understand that the crime which you committed was a very grave one, involving ligature strangulation of your former partner in her own home to the danger of her life. 

The sentence which I impose is 4 years 6 months imprisonment from 2 December 2013, discounted from a sentence of 6 years imprisonment because of the guilty plea which you tendered on 28 March of this year.”