HMA v Lawrence Barilli

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (22 November 2017) Sheriff Principal C A L Scott QC sentenced Lawrence Barilli to 27 months imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to charges of physical and domestic abuse. On sentencing Sheriff Principal Scott made the following statement in court:

On 25 October of this year, you were convicted of charges which involved insidious, comprehensive and sustained physical and mental abuse over two periods covering three years in total.

 Your victims were women who had embarked upon relationships with you. They were your partners.

 Your first victim was, in fact, only 17 years of age when the relationship began. You were some 9 years older than her. In her evidence, she stated that it was “…hard to point to a day when there was no violence.” She referred to “…a blur of hittings and beatings.”

 That victim has described how she “… lived in a constant state of dread, humiliation and fear.” She was “…often suicidal, often hoped he would indeed kill me just so I didn’t need to spend one more day wondering if this was all there was to life.”

 Her suffering endured for just under two years.

 Your second victim was of a similar age to yourself. In her evidence, she described a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse throughout a period which lasted for over a year. She describes the impact of your behaviour as being “devastating”. She continues to suffer nightmares in which the abuse perpetrated is relived.

 In considering appropriate sentences for the crimes of which you were convicted, I take account of the fact that you tendered certain pleas of guilty before the commencement of the trial. I must, therefore, afford you a degree of discount when it comes to the periods to be imposed. However, I also require to bear in mind that, in regard to each complainer, the jury convicted you of compressing their necks and restricting their breathing. On that aspect of matters you failed to accept your guilt either in advance of or during the trial.

 Each woman’s account of being strangled by you, and particularly that of your second victim, adds a frightening dimension to what is already a compendium of utter cruelty.

 Your criminal record reveals that you are not a stranger when it comes to domestic abuse. You already have two convictions in the Sheriff Court for domestically aggravated breach of the peace. Those convictions ultimately gave rise to the imposition of a community service order as a direct alternative to custody.

 In the whole circumstances, therefore, it should be no surprise to you to hear me say that following these convictions in the High Court, I am wholly satisfied that custody is the only form of disposal to be utilised here.

 I take full account of what’s been said on your behalf and of the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report.

 However, I also noted what senior counsel said to the jury during his closing speech. Quite properly, he described you as “a disgusting man”; “a despicable human being”; “a bully”. Similarly, on your behalf, it was accepted that the verbal abuse suffered by your victims was at least daily and that the physical abuse was at least weekly.

 As I have previously stated, I acknowledge the pleas of guilty tendered before the trial. I also acknowledge that the sentence I am about to impose will be your first experience of imprisonment.

 In an attempt to discourage you from similar behaviour in the future and to deter others from acting in the same way, I have concluded that the following disposals are appropriate, albeit subject to a discount of 25% to reflect the pleas of guilty as tendered in advance of the trial:

 On charge 1, the sentence of the court is 2 years imprisonment discounted to 18 months; on charge 4 you are admonished; on charge 6, the sentence is 12 months imprisonment discounted to 9 months; and on charge 7, 6 months imprisonment discounted to 4 months. The periods imposed on charges 6 and 7 will run concurrently with each other but the total period imposed on those charges, that’s to say, 9 months, will be consecutive to the 18 month period imposed on charge 1.

 That means that the prison sentence imposed on you is one of 27 months from today’s date.