HMA v Graham McKinlay

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 25 January 2017, Lord Boyd of Duncansby imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Graham McKinlay with a punishment part of five years after the accused pled guilty to attempted murder.

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

“Graham McKinlay, you have been convicted on your own plea of three offences. One of them – the attempted murder of Thomas Brennan is of the upmost gravity.

In all of them you used a knife as a weapon. All of the assaults were to the victim’s severe injury and permanent disfigurement. Given your record all of them, individually, would warrant indictment in the High Court.

On 5 December 2014 you assaulted Safdar Ali causing injuries to his mouth. The assault was racially aggravated.

The risk assessor concludes that you are not racially motivated but I note you have a previous conviction for a religiously aggravated offence and you have used racist language in the past.

The following day on 6 December you assaulted John McCluskey on a bus causing injuries to his head and ear.

The most serious of these three offences took place on 13 June 2015 in Union Street, Glasgow when you assaulted and attempted to murder Thomas Brennan.

This was an unprovoked attack on a young man out with his fiancé enjoying a good time.

For reasons which appear completely unexplained you inflicted the most dreadful injuries on him. These are detailed in the victim impact statement along with the consequences.

He sustained five stab wounds to the back, ten stab wounds to the chest and stomach, two slash wounds to the face and neck, a punctured lung, a punctured bowel and damaged spleen as well as broken ribs and damage to his ear.  He required an emergency laparotomy to repair his bowel and spleen and a chest drain for a collapsed lung. 

He was in hospital for 13 days, one week of which was in intensive care, and required additional hospital treatment for six weeks to deal with infection.  He has been left with ongoing issues with his bowel, continuing pain and discomfort in his back due to nerve damage. 

The scar to his face will require further surgery.  He is reliant on pain killers and suffers nightmares. 

The attack has had very significant personal consequences for Mr Brennan. It is clear that the injuries are life changing and are both physical and psychological. 

The best word to describe what you did to Mr Brennan is the one you used yourself about the offence; despicable.

I now have to consider what to do with you. Mr McCluskey recognises that whatever happens you must serve a very significant prison sentence.

The question for me however is whether the circumstances of the offences together with your record are such as to demonstrate that there is a likelihood that, if at liberty, you would seriously endanger the lives, or physical or psychological well-being, of members of the public at large.

The risk assessor appointed by the court has concluded that you are a high risk. However, she has also noted some positive features and you have the capacity to move into medium risk.

She notes however that while you have good plans to desist and motivated to address the risk factors she cannot be confident that you have the capacity to change.

I have not found this to be an easy task but I note that the risk is significantly increased when you consume alcohol and drugs.

You have undertaken a programme designed to address your propensity to use violence. That was said to have been successful. Yet you went on to commit the present offences.

I note too that the social worker was concerned at the seeming escalation in the level of violence. For my part I am concerned at the seemingly random nature of the attacks against innocent victims.

For these reasons I have concluded that the risk criteria are met and that I should impose an order for lifelong restriction. That will mean that you can only be released from prison after the expiry of the punishment part when the parole board are satisfied that the risk can be managed within the community.

I have to fix a punishment part. Had you been convicted after trial and I was imposing a determinate sentence I would have sentenced you to a cumulative sentence of 14 years imprisonment. In view of the plea I would have discounted that to 10 years in prison.

The punishment part will accord with the time before which you would have eligible to be considered for release by the parole board had I imposed that sentence. Accordingly the punishment part will be five years, backdated to 9 July 2015.”