HMA v Mark Wright

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 5 July, Judge Arthurson imposed a six year prison sentence on Mark Wright and disqualified him from driving for six years after the accused pled guilty to charges of assault and armed robbery, and dangerous driving in residential areas while pursued by the police.

On sentencing, Judge Arthurson made the following statement in court:

“On 23 June 2016 you tendered pleas of guilty by way of section 76 indictment to the following charges: first, a charge of assault and robbery on 25 January 2016 on a corner shop in Wellshot Road, Glasgow, with the use of a large knife and sawn-off air rifle, while your face was concealed; second, a charge of having with you on that date a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit the said robbery, contrary to the Firearms Act 1968, section 18(1) and (3); and, third, a charge of dangerous driving on nine roads in the east end of Glasgow in the early hours of 27 January 2016 during heavy rain while roads were wet and while being pursued by trained advanced police drivers, in the course of which you drove through residential areas which all had a speed limit of 30mph at speeds of up to 70mph, drove through five sets of road traffic lights and failed to comply with a signed Give Way junction, drove the wrong way up a one way street, crossed onto an opposite carriageway, crashed into a traffic light pole and pedestrian crossing, mounted a pavement and finally collided with such force into a parked van that that vehicle was pushed forward by some 15 metres, all contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 2.

In respect of charges 1 and 2, on 23 June the court was shown the highly disturbing CCTV footage of your assault and robbery with weapons at the shop in Wellshot Road. The incident was of short duration but I have no doubt that it will have an enduring and traumatic effect upon the shop owner who was your victim. Of particular concern to this court is the presentation by you of weapons in the course of this crime. This was a planned robbery on a targeted store. The narrative of your section 2 offence as set out in charge 3 can fairly be described as a catalogue of driving mayhem, which I categorise as being at the upper end of the scale of offending under the statutory provision. Your driving was reckless and highly dangerous.

Your criminal record is relatively limited, comprising twelve groups of offences running from 2010 to 2015, most of which are at Justice of the Peace level. You do, however, have two prior convictions on indictment, one for a drugs offence in 2013 and one for possession of a knife while on bail in 2014, both of which attracted community based sentences.

The offences for which I must sentence you today therefore represent a very significant escalation in the gravity of your offending. You have, through your early plea, and in your discussions with the authors of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report now available to the court accepted full responsibility and expressed deep remorse for this offending, and you will receive credit for all of this in the sentence which this court will shortly impose. You further have a good employment history and have frankly acknowledged the serious and enduring psychological harm which your actions have caused to your victim in charge 1. Those preparing the report, however, record this latter factor as the only positive one applying in your case as they have analysed the risk which you pose to the community. The authors further advise that you have presented to them with minimal insight into the underlying factors which facilitated your involvement in this offending.

I have listened carefully to what your counsel, Mr Dow, has said on your behalf, briefly on 23 June, and at greater length today, and I take into account the powerful mitigation which he has advanced, in particular in relation to the timing of your plea and your personal circumstances.

In all of these circumstances, I now sentence you as follows:

  • On charges 1 and 2, I impose concurrent sentences of 5 years imprisonment, backdated to 28 January 2016, when you were first remanded in custody in connection with these offences. But for the timing of your plea, that period would have been one of 7 years and 6 months on each charge respectively and concurrently.
  • In addition, in respect of charge 3, I impose a consecutive period of 12 months imprisonment, discounted due to the timing of your plea from a period of 18 months imprisonment. You will further in respect of this charge be disqualified from driving for a period of 6 years, discounted from 8 years, and you will require to sit the extended test before you can drive again.

Your whole sentence is therefore one of 6 years imprisonment, backdated to 28 January 2016, with a 6 year period of disqualification and requirement to sit the extended test imposed in respect of charge 3 on this indictment.”