HMA v Andrew Harvey

At the High Court in Glasgow on 28 April 2015, Lady Wolffe sentenced Andrew Harvey to four years and four months imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to the culpable homicide of Christopher Gilruth.

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

“Andrew Harvey, you have pled guilty to a single charge of culpable homicide. The Crown has accepted that you did not act with murderous intent. 

The circumstances are tragic. You resided together with the deceased, who was a much older man. He was also physically frail, vulnerable and to a certain extent dependent upon you, as you knew.  You were his carer. You were not in a relationship with him, but you were significant in each other’s lives. 

As might be expected in a long-term caring relationship, there had been moments of tension or frustration. These tensions arose, in part, due to the deceased’s accumulation of gambling debts. On the day of the deceased’s death, you and he had been arguing. He had gone out. You became concerned and went to look for him. He returned earlier than you to the flat. On your return, the arguing escalated to physical fighting and assaults. 

As a consequence of the assault, the deceased died. A more robust or fitter man might well have survived, but you must take your victim as you find him. The medical examination disclosed that the deceased had  numerous   injuries from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, as well as rib fractures. The latter may have been caused by the attempts to resuscitate the deceased. There are too many injuries, however, to be consistent with just a fall. You have accepted culpability for the deceased’s death. 

I have had regard to the criminal justice social work report. You are noted to be grief-ridden and to express remorse. You accept responsibility for the consequences of your actions. That report notes that you do pose a serious risk of harm. 

I have also had regard to your previous convictions. Most of these are for non-analogous road traffic offences. While you have two previous convictions for domestic assaults, I note that these were both disposed of by way of fines. You have not yet served a custodial sentence. 

I have also had regard to all that has been said on your behalf. You had a difficult upbringing, having been the victim of assaults at the hands of your step-father, and were taken into foster care aged 10 where you remained for seven years. You have had no family contact or ongoing support. You have a good work record. Latterly, you were the deceased’s carer and you ensured he was well looked after and well fed. 

On the day in question, you and the deceased had been arguing throughout the day due to the deceased’s gambling debts and which had led to the loss of electricity to the flat you shared. In a momentary loss of control you attacked and assaulted the deceased, with the tragic consequences that he died. When you realised what you had done, you sought immediately to resuscitate the deceased and were found to be doing so when the police attended. 

I have considered all of the foregoing. However, I have determined that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence. This was accepted on your behalf. 

In the light of the whole circumstances, the sentence I impose is one of six and one-half years. In the light of the early plea, I shall reduce this to a sentence of four years and four months. 

The period you have spent on remand has been taken into account in respect of this matter and the sentence is back-dated to 11 December 2014.”

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