HMA v GARRY LOCKHART

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 16 October 2014, Lady Wise sentenced Garry Lockhart to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 25 years after he was found guilty of murdering his wife and son.

On sentencing, Lady Wise made the following statement in court:

“Garry Lockhart, you have been convicted by the jury of two murders, that of your wife Janet and your two year old son Michael. Your actions have devastated your family and in particular your parents in law who have lost a precious daughter and a grandson to whom they were devoted. Nothing can be said today that will alleviate in any way the incalculable loss that they and all those who knew and loved Janet and Michael have suffered.

The evidence at trial was to the effect that on 28th December last year you went for an evening out with some other men from your neighbourhood, all fathers with children who had got to know each other through your respective families. After consuming a considerable amount of alcohol you returned home to find your wife waiting for you. She was to start work in the early hours of the morning and wanted to express her concern to you that you were in no fit state to care properly for your two year old son while she was out at work. Your response was to attack her and strangle her to death. Your state of inebriation is absolutely no excuse for your wicked actions that night and you have always accepted that you murdered Janet. But then you hatched a plan to kill your son and then take your own life, so that the three of you could be together in death. You did not kill Michael immediately after you murdered your wife. You fell asleep for some hours, were awoken by your son in the morning and then deliberately in the cold and more sober light of day first played with Michael, then put a pillow over his face and when he struggled, put your hand over his nose and mouth until he could no longer breathe and died. This, the jury determined, was murder. Your defence of diminished responsibility in the act of killing your son was clearly rejected.

I note that you now claim to have experienced auditory and visual hallucinations in the months leading up to these events – that you heard voices telling you to kill your wife and other people and voices telling you to hurt Michael. These claims were not made before or at the trial and I give them no credence.

You have one very minor previous criminal conviction and so I treat you as effectively a first offender. There is no suggestion that you have ever previously been involved in any violent behaviour. Having heard the evidence and Mr Gilfedder’s plea on your behalf this morning I am aware that you have suffered some mental health difficulties in the past, although those had no bearing on your actions on 28 December last year. While of course you have also suffered loss through the deaths of Janet and Michael and made a suicide attempt shortly after the murders it is clear that when you took the lives of your wife and child you had no regard whatsoever for their suffering and for the immeasurable value of their lives. To murder a vulnerable child who trusted and depended on you was a particularly wicked, unfathomable act.  Your actions now require the imposition of a severe punishment.   

The sentence for murder is fixed by law and I am about to impose that sentence on you. Although you have committed two murders I can only impose one such sentence. However, I must also fix a punishment part of the sentence, which will be the period that must be spent in custody before you can even make an application to be released on licence. You must not assume that you will be released from prison at the end of the punishment period fixed; the issue of any subsequent release will be for the Parole Board at the relevant time.

Garry Lockhart, I sentence you in respect of these murders to be imprisoned for life and fix the punishment part of your sentence at 25 years. That sentence will run from 31 December 2013 when you were first remanded in custody.”