HMA v STEPHEN SWEENEY

At the High Court in Glasgow on 26 March 2015, Judge John Morris QC sentenced Stephen Sweeney to seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to assaulting a baby to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life.

On sentencing, Judge Morris made the following statement in court: 

“Mr Sweeney, as your senior counsel rightly says, this is a truly tragic case. 

From what I have been told and from what I have read, your life, that of your family, and perhaps more poignantly and importantly, that of an infant child have been devastated by what you did in what can only be described as a moment of madness. 

What exactly happened only you know. But be under no illusion, Mr Sweeney, what you have pled guilty to is a deliberate attack and it is for that deliberate attack I must sentence you. 

Of course, no sentence which I may pass can adequately reflect the harm done in this case. 

In passing that sentence I take into account all that has been frankly and ably said by your counsel, Miss McMenamin. 

I take account of your previous good character. 

I also take into account, as I must, the fact that the Crown have accepted that you are not guilty of attempted murder, but for that acceptance the inevitable prison sentence would have been very substantial indeed. 

Also in passing sentence I must have due regard to the timing of your plea and the considerable utilitarian value that has. 

All that said however, Mr Sweeney, you have accepted responsibility for severely damaging an innocent young child who was in your trust and under your care and for that only a substantial prison sentence is appropriate. 

Had you not pled guilty when you did I would have sentenced you to ten years imprisonment. I shall discount that as I am obliged to do by 25 per cent. You will go to prison for seven-and-a-half years from today’s date.”