HMA v Nicholas Rodgers

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 22 June 2018, Lord Summers sentenced Nicholas Rodgers to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 16 years after the accused was convicted of the murder of Alex Stuart.

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

“Nicholas Rodgers, you have been found guilty by the jury of murder. By law the sentence for murder is a life sentence.

“This means that whatever period of time you serve in prison, upon your release you will be subject to licence for the rest of your life. If you breach the terms of your licence, you will be liable to be recalled to prison to serve the remainder of your life sentence.

“In imposing a life sentence I am required to fix the period that you must serve in custody before you can apply to the Parole Board to be considered for release on licence. That period is known as the punishment part of your sentence.

“The period fixed by me is a minimum period that you must serve before you can apply for parole. Thereafter it is a matter for the Parole Board to decide when, if ever, you should be released.

“In considering the punishment part I remind myself that while there is evidence that your thought processes had been affected by mental illness, the jury have rejected your defence of diminished responsibility. I approach the task of sentencing therefore on the basis that the mental illness from which you suffer was not such as to reduce your criminal responsibility for the death of Alex Stuart.

“It is clear that you were still in possession of your faculties on the day in question and to the extent that your powers of reason had been diminished this was in large measure because of decisions you took and for which you are responsible.

“You had been warned not to mix drugs and alcohol by health professionals who were providing you with support. You did not heed these warnings.

“Thus although your state of mind was not normal on the day of the killing this was in large measure attributable to actions for which you are responsible.

“Looking at the facts it is clear that the stabbing was not on the spur of the moment.

“When you emerged from the kitchen at 12 Cuddyside Peebles waving the knife and demanding apologies, Rebecca Allan and Jamie Rogers reasoned with you. They sought to calm you down and persuade you to put the knife away.

“According to Rebecca Allan they pleaded with you for about 20-25 minutes. At the end of this discussion you said ‘I may as well kill somebody’. That is what you did.

“Alex Stuart was only 22 when you took her life. She was a postwoman in Peebles and a popular figure.

“Her death is a tragedy for her family and the whole community. I again pay tribute to the dignity and restraint shown by her family and friends during the course of the trial. I can only express the hope that the trial and conviction will bring some closure to them.

“In passing sentence I take into account the fact that you have no significant previous convictions. I take into account your youth and the remorse you have expressed through counsel and by letter to this court. I also take into account your unstable family background and fragile mental state at the time at the time of the murder.

“In these circumstances I have decided to fix the punishment part of your sentence at 16 years. As you have been in custody from 7 August the sentence will run from that date.”