HMA v RAYMOND DAVID MCPHEE

Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Uist sentenced Raymond McPhee to a total of 12 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of the attempted murder of a 6 week old child.

On sentencing Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“You were convicted by the jury, on the basis of overwhelming and uncontradicted medical evidence, of the attempted murder of a six week old baby by repeatedly pinching him on the head, forcing an item, which was almost certainly a baby’s bottle, into his mouth, seizing hold of him and repeatedly shaking him, all to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life. You were also convicted of the wilful neglect of the baby by failing to obtain medical assistance and treatment for him, knowing that he had sustained various injuries.

The crime of attempted murder of which you were convicted is really an unspeakable one. You were left in charge of the baby, who suffered from colic and cried excessively in the evenings, and, because you were tired and hungover from a drinking bout throughout the previous night, you lost your temper and attacked him in the manner set out in the terms of the conviction. This was a grossly selfish and wholly insensitive act on your part. Many adults having the care of a child are driven to distraction by ceaseless crying but do not resort to violence against the child as you did. You continued to show selfishness after the event by lying about what happened to the child’s mother, the doctors, the police, the jury in your evidence at the trial and the social worker who prepared the pre-sentence report after your conviction. You have shown no remorse whatsoever and have sought to minimise, both in your evidence and to the social worker, the injuries which the child suffered. It is clear that the only reason your violence did not cost the baby his life is that he eventually received excellent medical care from the doctors who treated him, in both Aberdeen and Edinburgh,  after he was taken to hospital by his mother. Your attitude seems to be that there is nothing much wrong with the child as he is now able to walk and talk: you completely fail to appreciate that he has suffered serious and irreparable brain damage which will leave him severely disabled and blight his life for ever.

The charge of wilful neglect of which you were convicted is a quite separate and distinct crime which further demonstrates your selfishness and indeed also shows callousness on your part. Knowing what you had done, you thought only of yourself and failed to seek medical help for your weak and defenceless victim. This was, as the Advocate Depute described it to the jury, a dereliction of duty of the worst kind. The baby was suffering throughout the period from sustaining his injuries until he was taken to hospital. This suffering could have been alleviated, and the outcome might have been better to some extent had you taken him immediately to hospital. The reason why you did not do so, however, was clearly because you knew what you had done to him.

I take into account the terms of the social work report and all that has been said in mitigation on your behalf. I note particularly your previous good character. Nevertheless, the gravity of what you did must be marked by a long period of imprisonment. On charge 1 the sentence which I impose is 10 years imprisonment from 9 July 2010. On charge 2 the sentence which I impose is 2 years imprisonment, to be consecutive to the sentence on charge 1. The total sentence is therefore 12 years imprisonment from 9 July 2010”.  

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