HMA v Gordon Adam McCrone

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 9 August 2017, Lord Arthurson sentenced Gordon McCrone to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 20 years after the accused was found guilty of the murder of Malcolm McLaren.

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

“Gordon Adam McCrone, on 20 June you were convicted by a jury of the crimes of murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice. 

“Your victim was Mr Malcolm McLaren, who was at the date of his death at your hands aged only 40. He was a loving, caring brother, father and uncle who had in kindness taken you into his home in Clark Street, Airdrie, the very home in which you would go onto murder him on the night of 28 and 29 September 2016.

“I have read a full and moving impact statement from your victim’s sister, who herself attended at every day of your trial in June this year, enduring the highly disturbing evidence which was presented by the Crown before the jury concerning these offences. The effects of your crimes upon your victims are, plainly, profound and enduring. 

“You committed the brutal and savage murder of Mr McLaren by the infliction of multiple blows of considerable severity upon his head with a claw hammer. 

“Your murderous attack caused extensive fracturing from the top to the bottom of his skull, and in the case of one fracture, down into the cheekbone. Indeed, the evidence of the forensic pathologist at the trial was to the effect that the front and back parts of the skull were separated. 

“The jury, by its verdict on 20 June, rejected your contention that your actions were in self-defence or by reason of provocation. I must sentence you therefore for an unprovoked murderous attack with a weapon, causing the devastating injuries which I have just described, upon your victim in his own home. 

“The extensive steps taken by you to cover up your own involvement in this crime are set out in full in the libel of charge 3 on the indictment. You disposed of the clothing and footwear worn by you during your commission of the murder. You left a note at the flat, spoke to the police and even sent text messages to your victim’s telephone after his death, all in order to attempt to defeat the ends of justice. 

“Your very brief criminal record comprises one offence under the Road Traffic Act from 2016. I regard that record as of no moment whatsoever in the sentence to be imposed upon you. 

“The criminal justice social work report prepared for today’s hearing raises concerns about your lengthy history of drug misuse, latterly heroin misuse, and notes that you had taken ‘street’ Valium some hours before your commission of this appalling murder. You otherwise have, the report states, and as your senior counsel emphasised this morning, no history of violent behaviour. 

“I have listened carefully to the careful and helpful submissions made on your behalf this morning by your senior counsel, and take all of these into account in imposing sentence. I have mentioned some of these factors already, but note also the loss of your father, job and accommodation. 

“The penalty for the crime of murder is fixed by law, and is one of life imprisonment. That is the only sentence that I can impose on charge 2, the charge of murder. 

“However, as part of that sentence I have to select a period which must pass before you can apply for release on parole. That is known as the punishment part of the sentence. Whether you will be released then or indeed ever will be a matter for others to decide. 

“In selecting this period, I have had regard to the circumstances of the murder, the other offence of which you have been convicted by the jury as well as to your personal circumstances, the contents of the criminal justice social work report and what has been said this morning on your behalf. 

“In all of these circumstances, on charge 2 I sentence you to life imprisonment, which will run from 10 October 2016, being the date of your remand for these offences. I fix the punishment part at 20 years. 

“On charge 3, the charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice, I pass a sentence of three years imprisonment to run concurrently with the life sentence.”