HMA v John Ryan

At the High Court in Glasgow on 20 August 2015, Lord Boyd of Duncansby sentenced John Ryan to seven years imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to assaulting Callum Scott to his severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life.

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

“John Ryan, on 14th August last year you went to the house occupied by Callum Scott. You forced your way into the house despite him clearly telling you that you were not welcome. You then assaulted him in a manner which left him with a severe injury, his permanent impairment and to the danger of his life. 

A day or two beforehand you told others that you intended to give Mr Scott a couple of digs to take him down a peg or two. You were told not to do that as Mr Scott was a frail man. On your behalf it is said that you had been in Mr Scott’s company since then without incident and the matter had passed. Nevertheless you clearly stated an intention to assault Mr Scott. A day or two later you carried out that threat. 

All of these aggravating features are significant but none more so than your victim’s permanent impairment. By the time of his admission to hospital he registered 8 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. He was unconscious, apparently for a number of weeks. His vocal chords were paralysed and he could only communicate by gestures. He has severe cognitive deficits and lacks the capacity to make decisions. At present one year later he remains in hospital awaiting a place in a nursing home. He is unable to swallow and his fed through a tube. I am told that if progress is not made within the next year that may continue for the rest of his life. You left your victim with life changing injuries. 

I have listened carefully to what Mr Renucci has said on your behalf. He tells me that before you left the premises on the first occasion you had spent some minutes trying to see if Mr Scott could be roused. Only you can tell us what you were doing during the 5 or 10 minutes that you were alone with Mr Scott after you assaulted him. However, I note that when you eventually emerged you were swearing and calling Mr Scott a bastard. 

Mr Renucci also tells me that the reason you returned to the flat was because while you were walking away cursing and swearing at Mr Scott you apparently became worried about him and returned to see if he was ok. According to Mr Renucci you put Mr Scott in the recovery postilion. Again only you can say what you did when you were alone with Mr Scott but you did not call for an ambulance or other assistance. On the contrary you jumped out of a window and made your escape. I am told that the police placed Mr Scott in the recovery position. 

In these circumstances I find it hard to accept that you showed much concern for Mr Scott’s welfare on the night that you assaulted him. The fact is that you left him unconscious, bleeding heavily from the nose and clearly suffering from facial injuries. When Mr Murray last saw him he was in a foetal position. 

I note your personal circumstances including the fact that there is an apparent reconciliation with your partner. I am prepared to accept that you are now remorseful. I accept that whatever happened this was not a sustained assault. I accept that the consequences of your actions are not what might normally be expected in an assault of this nature on an otherwise healthy man. If the assault had been a sustained one then the sentence I am about to impose would be much longer. Nevertheless this was an assault on a frail man leaving him with life changing and devastating consequences. 

You have a considerable record including a number of analogous convictions for assault. I note that on one occasion you were sentenced to four years in the High Court for a number of assaults including assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement. You are no stranger to violence. Accordingly, I have to consider the safety of the public. 

Had you been convicted after trial I would have sentenced you to nine years in prison. In view of the plea I will impose a sentence of seven years. I will backdate the sentence to 9th December 2014.”

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