HMA v William Richardson

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 9 February 2018, Lord Woolman sentenced William Richardson to eight years imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to culpable homicide. On sentencing Lord Woolman made the following statement in court:

You have pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Colin Oliphant on 6 September 2017. On the night before his death, he had slept at a flat in Kelty. About 10am you went there to confront him. It is unclear whether you did so to enforce a drug debt, or because you believed that he had stolen tools from you.

 You carried out a sustained, brutal attack on him in the bedroom. It involved repeated punching and blows with a hammer. He was still able to stand and talk at the end of the assault. He followed you into the living room, where you punched him again on the nose.

 You were in the flat for about 20 minutes. Shortly after you left, Mr Oliphant’s face began to swell. He had difficulty in breathing. Paramedics arrived, but they could were unable to save him. They pronounced him dead about noon.

 The post mortem examination showed that Mr Oliphant had a total of 39 injuries: 18 to the head, nine to the trunk and the rest to his limbs. They included a fracture to the orbit above his right eye and a broken nose. The fatal injury was a ‘flail’ fracture to a rib, which punctured his lung.

 I have considered the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report and taken into account everything said in mitigation. In particular, I accept you have taken full responsibility for the offence from the outset and expressed genuine remorse.

 Principally, however, I must reflect the seriousness of the crime. This was a savage assault with a weapon. It resulted in another man’s death. His young daughter has lost her father.

 Although you have no prior convictions for violence, you have twice been convicted of drugs offences. In 2010 the sheriff at Glasgow fined you £10,000 for being concerned in the supply of amphetamines. In 2013 you received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment at Edinburgh High Court for a similar offence in respect of heroin.

 If you had been convicted after trial, I would have sentenced you to a period of 12 years in prison. Because you pled guilty at the earliest opportunity, I shall discount the sentence by one third. That means that the sentence is one of eight years. I shall backdate it to 11 September 2017, when you were first taken into custody.