HMA v William John Paterson

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 11 August 2017, Lord Armstrong sentenced William Paterson to 12-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to the culpable homicide of James Beveridge.

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

“William John Paterson, you have pleaded guilty, at your trial diet, to a charge of culpable homicide, by, on 15 October 2016, stabbing a man repeatedly with a bladed weapon – a kitchen knife  – on the head, neck and body to such an extent that he died on the following day.

“The fatal wound which you inflicted penetrated your victim’s neck, and caused irreparable damage, despite emergency surgery, to the left carotid artery and jugular vein.

“You are a man of 46 years, who has accumulated a criminal record which extends from 1997 to February 2016.

“You have been previously convicted on some 19 past occasions. You have previously served some four periods of imprisonment, the longest being a period of seven months.

“I have noted carefully what has been said in mitigation on your behalf, and have taken into account the whole circumstances of the case as they have been related to me.

“I have noted and read the terms of the criminal justice social work report, now available to me. I note that you have shown remorse and accept responsibility for your actions, and that you appreciate the consequence of these actions.

“I have taken account of the deletions made to the original charge.

“I also note that the deceased himself, in relation to this tragic incident which led to his death, was far from blameless, and that, yourself, were being attacked at the time when you stabbed him.

“Nevertheless, the crime to which you have pleaded guilty is a grave one, involving as it did, the violent death of another person.

“I have no doubt that Mr Beveridge’s family and friends will be deeply affected by this. Nothing I can say or do will compensate for their loss, and I suspect that no sentence which I can impose would ever be regarded as sufficient in their eyes.

“There are no reasons, whether to do with the consumption of drugs or alcohol, or with your lifestyle otherwise, which could possibly justify taking the life of another, as you did. I have read and noted a victim impact statement by Mr Beveridge’s sister, the terms of which are an eloquent description of the devastating impact which your actions have had on his whole family.

“In the particular circumstances of this case, I consider that your plea has resulted in some public utility and, accordingly, I intend to discount the sentence which I would otherwise have imposed.

“However, I must also take into account that you went to meet your victim, already armed with the knife which you used in this tragic incident, that this assault involved the use of a bladed weapon, the nature of the injuries sustained by the man you attacked, the impact his death has had on the lives of others, and the nature and extent of your criminal record.

“In these circumstances, had I been sentencing you after trial, I would have imposed a period of imprisonment of 14 years. Allowing for the public benefit to be attached to the fact of your plea, I shall discount that notional starting point to a lesser sentence.

“The sentence which I do in fact now impose on you is one of a period of imprisonment of 12 years and six months. That sentence will run with effect from 17 October 2016, that being the date when you were first detained in custody in relation to this matter.”