HMA v Robbie McIntosh

At the High Court in Aberdeen today, 22 February 2018, Lord Arthurson imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction (punishment part five years) on Robbie McIntosh after the accused pled guilty to the attempted murder of a woman walking her dog in Dundee. On sentencing Lord Arthurson made the following statement in court:


 Robbie McIntosh, on 25 October 2017 a plea of guilty was tendered on your behalf at Edinburgh High Court in respect of an indictment containing a single charge of attempted murder. 

Your victim was a 52 year old woman who was entirely unknown to you and who had simply, on 7 August 2017, set off into Templeton Woods, Dundee, for her regular early afternoon dog walk. 

She described you as being expressionless as you passed her on a path.  Thereafter you ran up behind her at speed and committed a savage attack upon her by striking her repeatedly on the head and body with a dumbbell.  Throughout the attack, which was undoubtedly a murderous one, you remained impervious to her pleas for mercy.  As she lay on the ground drifting in and out of consciousness you dragged her from the path into the woods. 

Thankfully your victim’s screams were heard by other dog walkers and you were seen crouching down and leaning over your victim on the ground.  Shortly thereafter you ran away. These dog walkers joined with two other walkers in the woods to call for assistance and to tend to your victim. 

You, in contrast, having committed this appalling crime, sent a text message to a friend stating that you had no cigarettes.  At your home address, you proceeded to put the clothing that you had been wearing through a wash cycle in a washing machine. 

The injuries sustained by your victim were substantial.  Her thumb was broken into several pieces.  She sustained five scalp wounds and two skull fractures.  Her wounds will leave permanent scarring and disfigurement.  In addition, she has suffered from flashbacks and nightmares.  

On the date of this offence you were temporarily at liberty as part of a programme of home leave in anticipation of being considered for admission to parole.  You were due to return to prison on 9 August 2017. 

This temporary period of release was one of a series of periods that you had completed without incident prior to a parole hearing which was scheduled for 10 August 2017.  You had been serving a sentence of life imprisonment with a punishment part of 15 years following upon your conviction on 17 April 2002 for the murder on 2 August 2001 of a 34 year old woman at a wooded area on Law Hill, Dundee, in the course of which you inflicted 29 stab wounds, including several to the neck and head, and stamped on her head.  The trial judge in that case agreed with a witness who spoke of your victim having been “butchered”. 

The court now has available to it a Criminal Justice Social Work Report together with a thorough and detailed Risk Assessment Report.  In summary, the author of the latter report has concluded that you present a high risk of serious physical violence and psychological harm to the public and in particular towards adult females.  The level of physical harm which you present is assessed as potentially life threatening. 

 I am satisfied, having carefully considered the terms of these reports and having regard to the circumstances of this offence of attempted murder and of your earlier murder conviction, that, on a balance of probabilities, the relevant risk criteria are met in your case and that you can rightly be placed within that category of exceptional offenders for whom an Order for Lifelong Restriction is the only appropriate disposal.

The Risk Assessment Report makes it plain that you have demonstrated an enduring propensity and pose an enduring risk of seriously endangering the public.  It is of particular concern that there were no apparent warning signs prior to your commission of this new offence.  The author of the report has noted specifically that all professionals involved in your case reported shock at your commission of this offence, with all indicating that none of them could have predicted that this would occur.  The author has concluded that your risk, certainly at this stage, is not amenable to change and has further indicated that she cannot foresee a time in the future when this might alter.  It is of note that you have been assessed as having some psychopathic personality traits, which are linked to your violence and impinge on the management of the risk presented by you. 

In these circumstances, I am therefore making an Order for Lifelong Restriction.  That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period.  I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to be released on licence. 

Had I not been imposing an Order for Lifelong Restriction, the custodial term of the sentence which I would have imposed on this indictment would have been 18 years.  I have determined that the part of this period which would represent an appropriate period to satisfy the sentencing requirements of retribution and deterrence is 15 years.  At this stage I require to take into account the fact that you pled guilty to the charge on this indictment at the earliest opportunity in the course of these proceedings.  Accordingly, I will discount the latter period to a period of 10 years to reflect your early plea.  Having applied the relevant statutory formula, I therefore fix the punishment part of your sentence at 5 years. 

Please be clear about this, however.  The sentence imposed by the court today is not a sentence of 5 years imprisonment.  It is instead an Order for Lifelong Restriction, which is, as I have already observed, a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period.  You will not be eligible to apply for parole until the punishment part has concluded and you must not assume that you will automatically be released at that time.  You will be released only when the Parole Board for Scotland determines that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you should continue to be confined in prison.  When you are released – if indeed you are ever released at all – is in law a matter for the Parole Board. 

Your sentence will run from 9 August 2017, being the date of your initial remand in custody in respect of this case.