HMA v Mark Armstrong

At the High Court in Glasgow on 17 February 2016, Lady Wise imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Mark Armstrong with a punishment part of four years after the accused pled guilty to charges of assault and robbery and a charge of abduction, assault and rape.

“Mark Armstrong, you pled guilty to four charges. The first three involved assault and robbery perpetrated against three separate women, all of whom were strangers to you and small in stature. You attacked each of those three women when they were alone and vulnerable and attacked each in a frightening manner to rob them of their handbags.

The fourth charge to which you pled was the abduction, assault and repeated rape of a 15-year-old girl, again a complete stranger who was on the way home from school after netball training. You grabbed her from behind and overcame her resistance before detaining her for a period of about 32 hours, subjecting her to the most terrifying ordeal of violent and sexual conduct. She estimates that there were about eight separate acts of rape inflicted.

Your behaviour towards that girl was so cruel, depraved and inhumane that even without any other offences or previous criminal convictions it would merit a very significant punishment. The bravery and resilience shown by your victim both during and after her ordeal was quite remarkable, but the long term impact on her is as yet unknown.

Having heard the comprehensive narrative of events previously, it would serve no purpose to narrate today in any detail the circumstances of your appalling conduct. You have apparently exhibited regret for your actions and some level of insight into your behaviour. You have acknowledged a connection between your abuse of alcohol and controlled drugs and your criminal conduct. While that you have faced behavioural difficulties from a young age and have been found to have significant personality problems, that is in no sense an excuse for your behaviour and if anything simply exacerbates the risk you pose to the public.  

You are 26 years old. Your criminal record discloses a large number of previous convictions, many involving violence. You have previously served custodial sentences, albeit for relatively short periods.

Having considered the very detailed Risk Assessment Report on you I am wholly satisfied that the risk criteria are met in your case and I note that your Counsel has accepted that on your behalf this morning. You are assessed as having a high likelihood of engaging in future violent offending which would endanger the public at large. A great deal of work within the prison setting will be required before any consideration could be given to supervision within the community and it is clear that you will require lifelong supervision.

Therefore I make an order for Lifelong Restriction in respect of you. That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence. That is the minimum period which you must spend in custody before you can apply to be released on licence.

Had I been imposing fixed sentences on you the starting point for those would have been as follows:

  • On charges 1 2 and 3 a cumulo sentence of three years imprisonment 
  • On charge 4 (the abduction assault and rape charges) a sentence of 12 years imprisonment and that  consecutive to the sentence on the non sexual offences charges.

That would amount to a total of 15 years imprisonment. However, given your plea at the earliest reasonable opportunity I would have reduced that to 11 years.

From that I deduct a period of three years which I would have considered to be the public protection element, had I been fixing a determinate sentence. That results in a punishment only part of eight years, which would at best entitle you to release on licence having served a period of four years imprisonment.

So that is the punishment part that I fix, four years. You should be clear that there is no absolutely no assumption or expectation that you will be released at the end of that period. You will be released only when it is considered no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison.

The sentence will run from the date of your first remand, on 16 March 2015.

As a result of the sentence which I have just imposed you now become subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.” 

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