HMA v A

At the High Court in Edinburgh, on 6 June, 2017, Lady Scott sentenced a man to 6 years imprisonment after he pled guilty to behaving in an abusive and threatening manner, abducting and assaulting his family and attempting to cause an explosion in the flat where they were detained.

On sentencing, Lady Scott made the following statement in court: 

“You have pled guilty in  charge 2 to behaving in an abusive and threatening manner contrary to s38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act; in charge 3 to  the abduction and assault of your wife, your step daughter and 2 daughters - with the assault of your wife to her severe injury and to the danger of her life, and finally in charge 4 to culpable and reckless conduct in attempting to cause an explosion in the flat in which you had detained your family.

All of this occurred on 12 December 2016 within the same, prolonged incident, in the family home. Your wife and three daughters, now aged 16, 11 and 9 years of age were within the flat.

On that day you were clearly heavily intoxicated with drugs and behaving aggressively. By the evening you had threatened to kill yourself and became enraged - smashing furniture, cutting your face and threatening to kill yourself. You then turned on your wife, punching her in the face; striking her repeatedly on the back as she tried to defend herself, and then grabbing her throat, preventing her from breathing - and counting slowly to five and releasing her. You repeated this several times putting your wife in fear of her life. Next, you grabbed a knife brandishing it and holding it at her throat. You then gave her the knife, shouting ‘now do me’.

Your wife managed to get the girls outside, but you came after them and forced them back into the flat, whereupon you locked the flat and destroyed the lock, so that they were trapped. You then took possession of an axe. You switched on all the gas hobs on the cooker and demanded a lighter. With the axe you damaged the gas boiler and smashed the radiators.

Your wife managed to switch off the cooker hobs and hide, with the children, inside the bathroom with the door shut. One of your daughters managed to call the emergency services telling them her daddy was trying to kill her mum and blow up the house. At the same time your wife was screaming for help and shouting that you were going to kill her. During all of this you smashed the house with the axe.

When police arrived they could hear the children screaming from outside. The full block of flats was evacuated by police as there was a high risk to all other residents within, including families with young children, due to the possibility of a gas explosion. The police had to make several attempts to force entry before you were detained and the gas leak dealt with.

You have a prior conviction for assault and one for possession of a knife. The Criminal Justice and Social Work report suggests you have little insight into your conduct and the damage you have caused to your victims.

You have been examined on a number of occasions by psychiatrists and psychologists but the latest psychiatric report reviewing the history concludes you do not have a psychiatric disorder. There is a suggestion in the history that you have a personality disorder and you clearly have anger management issues and a long history of drink and drug abuse.

On the other hand you have not offended since you were 24 and you are now 45 years old. There are no convictions for domestic violence and you have been married for 13 years. You say you have not taken alcohol since 2011, as a result of your chronic liver damage. You have suggested that on this day the mixture of the prescribed medicines you took, caused you to lose control - but that is not supported by the expert report. It seems to me your conduct is rooted in a problem with controlling your aggression and rage, when heavily intoxicated.

I take into account your early plea.

This incident involved prolonged serious violence against your own family who were terrified and traumatised by your conduct. This incident is likely to have caused lasting psychological damage to your children.

Your assault on your wife was to the peril of her life and finally you have accepted by your plea your conduct caused the endangerment of the lives of your family and the public.

I sentence you in respect of charge (1) to 27 months imprisonment reduced from 3 years to reflect your early plea, which sentence is to run concurrent to the sentence imposed on charges (3) and (4).

In respect of the common law charges (3) and (4)  I sentence you to a cumulo sentence of 6 years reduced from 8 years to reflect your early plea backdated to 14 December 2016."