HMA v Gary Brown

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 6 July 2018, Lord Summers sentenced Gary Brown to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 27 years after the accused was convicted of the murder of his former partner Alyson Watt and the attempted murder of a 16-year-old boy.

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

“Gary Brown, you have been found guilty by the jury of the murder of Alyson Watt. She died as a result of multiple stab wounds inflicted on her after she returned to her home in Paisley on the afternoon of 2 June 2017. 

“Since Alyson Watt is dead and the boy unable to give evidence, the timing of events after you were given entry to her home is unclear. On your account you attacked Alyson Watt first and then tried to kill the boy so that he could not be a witness against you. 

“Although it ultimately does not matter I consider the more likely sequence of events is that you attacked the boy first, leaving him lying on the settee. You then went upstairs and placed the hammer you had used on Alyson Watt’s bed. 

“Alyson Watt arrived home shortly thereafter and you attacked her with a knife. Her message bag and its contents were found lying on the hallway. Her body was found in the rear kitchen. After the stabbing you left the house and drove away.  

“Whichever version of events is accurate your behaviour was murderous and unforgiveable. 

“A short time later Alyson Watt’s neighbours saw her at the kitchen window. She was beating the window with hands covered in blood. Blood had turned her hair colour dark. 

“They went next door to assist and were greeted by a scene of horror. Not only was Alyson Watt bleeding to death in the kitchen from over 40 knife wounds but her son Tom had been hit repeatedly over the head with the hammer. 

“The evidence demonstrated a high level of violence towards the boy, with blood spatter on the ceiling and walls of the living room where he was found. 

“Alyson Watt died at the scene. The boy has been sentenced by you to a living death. He can barely communicate and is profoundly disabled. 

“The victim impact statements make harrowing reading. Alyson Watt’s sister and her parents explain to the court how their lives have been ruined by your crimes. The boy’s father now lives a life which revolves around hospital visits and the care of his son. His career has been ruined and he struggles with depression. 

“In this circumstance I now address the question of sentence appropriate to these crimes. In respect of charge 8, the charge of murder, I sentence you to life imprisonment. On charge 6, the charge of attempted murder, I would have sentenced you to 16 years’ imprisonment but for your plea of guilty. Given that the plea was tendered at the preliminary hearing but recognising, as the Crown submitted, that it was of limited utilitarian benefit in the context of this trial, I reduce the sentence to 15 years. 

“In fixing the punishment part I address the totality of the offending behaviour. Thus I require to consider what proportion of the punishment part should be allocated to the attempted murder. 

“Had the murder charge stood alone the punishment part, taking account of the aggravation under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016, would have been 22 years. Since the murder charge is associated with the crime of attempted murder it requires to be taken into account. 

“I attribute 10 years of the sentence for the attempted murder to considerations of retribution and deterrence. I take account of the early release provisions and accordingly half that figure. The effect of this is that five years are attributable to the punishment part so as to give effect to section 2(2)(a) of the Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993. 

“The punishment part for the crimes of murder and attempted murder is therefore fixed at 27 years. 8 June 2017 was the date on which you were taken into custody and the sentence will run from that date.”