HMA v Graham Campbell

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 19 January 2016, Lady Wolffe imposed an extended sentence of six years imprisonment on Graham Campbell after the accused pled guilty to assault with a knife and theft.

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

“Graham Campbell, you have pled guilty to a charge of assault and the theft of a sum of money.

In particular, you have admitted using a knife against your half-brother in the course of an argument.  You had been staying with him in his bedsit. The knife was his.

Your half-brother sustained a single stab wound, to a depth of some four inches. It was his good fortune, and yours, that it did not penetrate any major organs or blood vessels, or pose a danger to life. After treatment, your brother was released from hospital the following day.

You pled guilty in the week before you were due to go to trial in the High Court.

I have had regard to your previous convictions. You are nearly 48 years old and have a record of offending extending back to 1989.

Your previous convictions are numerous and disclose a pattern of regular offending for a range of offences, including for crimes of dishonesty, breaches of court orders and bail, prison-breaking, public disorder and drugs offences. It is concerning to note that you have five previous convictions for assaults, two of which were aggravated as domestic assaults. One of these was a High Court conviction. You also have a previous conviction for culpable homicide, and for which you were sentenced to ten years in prison. 

By reason of your record I instructed a criminal justice social work report, and one which would assess the risk for the purposes of imposition a possible extended sentence.

I have had regard to the CJSW report. It records that you are capable of harmful behaviour of a violent nature and that you have little appreciation of the consequences of your actions.

You are assessed as posing a high risk of harm to members of the public and of further offending. The risk assessment undertaken by the author of that report supports the imposition of an extended sentence.

I have taken into account all that has been said on your behalf. I have particular regard to your personal circumstances and those of your upbringing.  This included some violence and bullying being visited upon you, including by your older siblings and including your half-brother, the complainer.

In the months prior to the assault contained in the charge, you were permitted to reside with the complainer, but on the basis that you provided him with all of your benefit monies. This was productive of conflict.

It is not accepted by the Crown that your brother consumed illegal drugs, as well as yourself, on the day in question. It is suggested on your behalf that it was the complainer who brought the knife from its hiding place under his bed to the sitting room, although this feature of the events is not contained within the agreed Crown narrative.

I am asked to note that the charge to which you have pled guilty is significantly less serious than as stated on the original indictment.  It is suggested that, but for your past record, this matter would not be in the High Court. 

You are now approaching 50 and have spent most of your adult life in custody. The circumstances of the offence have constituted the ‘last straw’ with your family. It may be that this is why you did not appear to express any remorse for your actions.

You have however indicated a desire to change. You welcome the opportunity to engage with programmes in prison to address your offending behaviour, your drug addiction and other issues arising from your childhood.

I have considered whether a custodial sentence is appropriate. In the light of the whole circumstances, I am satisfied that in your case, there is no alternative disposal to one of imprisonment.

The crime to which you have pled guilty is very serious and has the features I have already described. Modern society will not tolerate the kind of casual random violence you engaged in against your half-brother in his own home, and where he would expect to be safe from such violence.

However, I have considered the continuing risk you may pose to the public upon your release. I have already noted the terms of the criminal justice social work report, and its support for an extended sentence as a way to manage the clear risk you pose. Indeed, you accepted through your counsel that an extended sentence was necessary and the appropriate way forward.  

In the light of all of the information before me, I am of the view that an extended sentence is essential to manage the high risk that you pose upon release into the community.

Having regard to the nature of the crime to which you have pled guilty, your past record and what has been said on your behalf, the extended sentence I impose is one of six years.

The custodial element of this is four years. But for the early plea the custodial part of the sentence would have been four-and-a-half years. The extended part of the sentence is two years.

The sentence I impose is to be backdated to 24 April 2015, being the day on which you were taken into custody in relation to this offence.

I order that on your release from custody you will be under the supervision of the local authority for a period of two years. During that period after your release from custody, you will report to the supervising officer allocated to supervise you in a manner and at intervals specified by him or her.

You will keep your supervising officer advised of your current address and you will comply with any other requirement your supervising officer may reasonably require. There will be consequences if you breach any such requirement.

I sincerely hope you will engage positively with, and benefit from, the programmes available to you in prison so that, upon release, you will cease from further criminal behaviour.”