HMA v Gary Crossan

At the High Court in Glasgow today (6 November 2017) Lord Matthews sentenced Gary Crossan to life imprisonment (punishment part 14 years) after the accused was found guilty of murder. On sentencing Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

You were convicted after trial of the murder of Malcolm Robert Wright.

The events leading to his death were the culmination of a short period when the two of you went to Peterhead and stayed for a while before Mr Wright moved out. You continued to associate with each other and Mr Wright would come to visit you. This association was fuelled by excessive drinking and, as Ms McCall has mentioned, some casual violence.

On the night in question the evidence disclosed that the two of you had again been drinking heavily before going back to the house which you were renting. You accepted that you then punched Mr Wright and that you were responsible for his death but the jury found that you inflicted further blunt trauma on him in an attack which they categorised as murder, rather than culpable homicide.

The pathological evidence showed that the punches could have caused the twisting injury which Mr Wright sustained and from which he would have been rendered unconscious. The haematoma which was the ultimate cause of Mr Wright’s death could have been caused, among other things by his falling and striking his head but all of this was in the context of an attack with the other elements sent out in the indictment, none of which caused any fracture.

The only sentence I can pass is one of life imprisonment but I have also to impose a period which must pass before you can apply for release on parole. Whether you are released or not at any time thereafter will be for others to determine.

Nothing I can say will assuage the grief felt by Mr Wright’s family. Whatever happened and whatever the mechanism of death, he was murdered but I have to make a decision based on all the circumstances including the nature of the offence, your own circumstances and what has been said on your behalf.

The fact that drink was taken is no excuse but it explains the background. The motive for the assault, in so far as it was possible to discern one, may have been financial, the phone footage showing you demanding money from Mr Wright and his appearing to acknowledge that he owed it to you.

Your previous convictions are of no significance and I take account of the fact that no weapons were used other than your hands and your feet.

The sentence will run from 30 January 2017. I fix the punishment part at 14 years and subject to that sentence you to imprisonment for life.