HMA v Thomas Sellar

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 28 July 2016, Lord Ericht sentenced Thomas Sellar to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 18 years after the accused was convicted of the murder of Jamie Walsh.

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

“Thomas Sellar, you have been found guilty of murdering Jamie Walsh by striking him with a knife. The punishment is fixed by law. You will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

I am obliged to fix a period of time which you must serve in custody before being considered for parole. In fixing this period, known as the punishment part, I must reflect the need to punish you for the crime of murder and to deter you and others from committing murder.

In fixing the punishment part of your sentence the law requires me to ignore the risk that you may pose to the public in the future. This does not mean that you will serve just this period.

It will be for the Parole Board to determine when it is safe for you to be released from prison. The question of parole cannot arise before the punishment period has passed.

I am also obliged to take account of the seriousness of the crime of murder of which you have been convicted, and your record of previous convictions.

You have six convictions for having weapons in public places at least two of which related to a knife and you have four convictions for assault. In 2013 on sheriff court indictment you were sentenced to imprisonment for seven months for assault to injury.

In this case, the incident arose when you intervened in relation to noise and disturbance from a neighbouring flat. Within a few minutes after that, Jamie Walsh was dead, stabbed by you.

As a result, Jamie Walsh’s family have lost a much loved son and brother.

I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf in mitigation and taken it into account. It is clear from what was said that you have accepted responsibility for the death from an early stage albeit pleading self-defence which was not accepted by the jury. It is also clear both from what was said and from the social work report that you have expressed remorse for your actions.

Having regard to the whole circumstances, the punishment part will be one of 18 years. This period of 18 years is backdated to 14 September 2015 when you were remanded in custody.

This does not mean that this is a sentence of 18 years. You are sentenced to life imprisonment and you will serve at least 18 years before you can be considered for release on parole.

It will be for the Parole Board to determine when you will ultimately be released and they will have regard to the safety of the public in reaching that decision.”