HMA v Bala Chinda

At the High Court in Aberdeen today, 20 January 2017, Lord Beckett sentenced Bala Chinda to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 18 years after the accused was found guilty of the rape and murder of Jessica McGraa.

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

“You have been found guilty of murder and the punishment is fixed by law. You will be sentenced to life imprisonment. I must fix a period of time which you must serve in prison before being considered for parole.

In fixing this period, known as a 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.

In fixing this period I have to take account of the seriousness of the crime of murder of which you have been convicted, combined with the other crimes on the indictment.

In your favour, I take account of your having no previous convictions. I recognise that there will be a significant degree of isolation whilst you are in prison in Scotland, a long way from your homeland and your family, and I take that into account.

You raped a woman and made her undergo sexual intercourse without the protection of a condom. You then murdered her, by smothering her with a pillow, and strangling her, probably using her scarf.

You then sought to hide evidence which would link you to her. You might have got away with this but for the excellent police work which led to your detection, arrest and conviction.

Your victim was the mother of a young child living in this country. She had hoped to marry.

She had family in Nigeria who were supported by her to some extent and a brother in Hong Kong, all of whom will painfully feel their loss. She was much loved by her friends, two of whom gave evidence, and one of whom described her as being full of fun and life, a life which you ended when she was 37 and had much left to live for.

The punishment part on charge 1 will be one of 18 years. This period of imprisonment for 18 years is backdated to 17 February 2016 when you were remanded in custody.

I will impose a separate sentence of three years imprisonment on charge 2, to be served concurrently with the punishment part and also backdated to 17 February 2016.

This does not mean that this is a sentence of 18 years. You are sentenced to life imprisonment and you will serve at least this period 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.

As a consequence of your having been convicted of a sexual offence, namely rape, I certify that this is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 such that you will be subject to notification requirements indefinitely.

Whilst it is substantially academic, I shall direct the clerk of court to intimate details of your conviction to the Scottish Ministers for them to determine if your name should be included in the lists of persons unsuitable to work with children and vulnerable persons in terms of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.”

Sentencing Statements

HMA v David McFarlane

Friday, 13 September, 2019

HMA v Bohdan Cieslar

Thursday, 12 September, 2019

HMA v Ronald Hardman

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019

HMA v Domenica Smith

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019

HMA v Martin John Innes

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019