HMA v Cameron Ferguson & Sean Seawright

At the High Court in Glasgow, Lord Matthews today, 12 April, 2017, sentenced Cameron Ferguson to 19 months imprisonment for housebreaking and car theft, and sentenced Sean Seawright to 10 months imprisonment for dangerous driving and other traffic offences.

On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in Court:

"You have pleaded guilty, at a diet of trial, to 6 charges involving breaking into three houses, stealing car keys and then stealing a high end motor vehicle associated with each house. The offences were committed between 22 and 24 January 2016.

Had all things been equal and simple and had matters proceeded to trial I would have sentenced you to a total of 54 months imprisonment, having taken account of the circumstances of the offences, your record and what Mr Ross has said on your behalf. That would have been arrived at by sentencing you to 12 months imprisonment on each of the charges of theft by housebreaking and to 6 months imprisonment on each of the charges of theft of a car. The sentences would have been ordered to run consecutively to each other.

However matters are not as simple as that.

In the first place, I must give you some credit for your plea. Secondly, I note, as was pointed out by Mr Ross, that there are 526 days available in respect of a potential order under Section 16 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993, in respect that offences were committed during the period when you were released and before your previous sentences would have expired.

Thirdly, in view of what I have been told about the circumstances of your various remands in custody, it seems to me only right that I give you full credit for the period of 441 days, as Mr Ross has calculated it, between 27 January 2016 and today.

I have decided to make an order under Section 16 that you be returned to custody for a period of 500 days from today.

Secondly, I have decided that the sentences which I will pass for the offences to which you have pleaded guilty will run from the end of that period.

However, I must give you credit for the period you spent on remand. Using the usual methodology I will have to double that period to take account of the fact that I cannot backdate the sentences from today and to acknowledge that one day on remand is broadly the equivalent of two days as part of a sentence because of the provisions for potential early release. That makes a period of 882 days or, broadly speaking, 2 years and 5 months. That has to be deducted from the sentence.

That leaves the question of discount. I have decided that the headline sentence of 54 months should be reduced by 6 months leaving a total of 48 months.

Reducing that by 2 years and 5 months gives a period of 1 year and 7 months.

In order to achieve that figure I have decided that I will still sentence you to 1 year on each of the charges of theft by housebreaking but on each of the charges of car theft the sentence will be 7 months. However, instead of all these sentences being consecutive, the periods of 1 year will run concurrently with each other, that is on charges 3, 5 and 7 and the periods of 7 months on charges 4, 6 and 8 will run concurrently with each other but consecutively to the periods of 12 months.

All in all, therefore, you will be returned to prison from today for 500 days followed by a sentence of 19 months.

Sean Seawright

You have pleaded guilty to charges on two indictments, being dangerous driving and driving while disqualified and without insurance.

The course of driving which we saw on the footage from the helicopter was appalling, lasting around an hour in wet conditions. It is almost a miracle that no-one was seriously hurt or killed.

I have listened to and taken account of what has been said on your behalf but it is obvious, given the nature of the driving and your record, that in respect of the charge of dangerous driving the maximum sentence of 2 years would have to be imposed but for 2 factors, namely the fact that you offered an early plea and the time you spent on remand.

As far as the first is concerned, there was a utilitarian value to the plea although not as great as in some cases in view of the fact that for the most part police evidence would have been sufficient.

The starting point for the charge of dangerous driving is 2 years and 3 months imprisonment, the 3 months being attributable to your being on bail. After discount I reduce that to 1 year and 11 months, with the same 3 months attributable to bail. You will also be disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for 12 years and until you pass the extended test of competence to drive.

As far as the charge of driving while disqualified is concerned, the starting point is 9 months, with 3 months attributable to bail. I reduce that to 7 months with the same attribution in respect of bail. You will be disqualified for 5 years concurrently.

The prison sentence on that charge will run consecutively to that on the charge of dangerous driving

On the charge of driving with insurance I admonish you and disqualify for 6 months concurrently.

The total prison sentence I have arrived at is 2 years and 6 months. However, as with Mr Ferguson, I take account of the period of remand, since I cannot simply backdate. That period was 10 months which I double to 20.

Accordingly the resultant sentence is a total of 10 months imprisonment. I will reach that figure by imposing that sentence in respect of the charge of dangerous driving, with 2 months attributable to bail and ordering the sentence in respect of driving while disqualified to run concurrently.

I have considered the effect of this total sentence of 10 months along with that which you are currently serving but am satisfied that it should run at the expiry of your current sentence."