HMA v Kelly Hand, Clare Hand and Graeme Spence

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Wednesday 8 August 2018, Lord Woolman sentenced Kelly Hand, Clare Hand and Graeme Spence to imprisonment for their parts in serious assaults.

On sentencing, Lord Woolman made the following statement in court: "This case comes before the High Court on a remit for sentence from the Sheriff at Kilmarnock. Two serious assaults were committed in Dalry in 2017. Kelly Hand and her sister Clare Hand carried out the June attack. Kelly Hand and Graeme Spence carried out the December attack.

The Crimes

Charge (1)  

On 25 June last year the victim, Irene Doherty, was staying temporarily with Michelle Headley. Kelly Hand lived across the road from the Msa Headley's house. In the afternoon, Kelly and Clare Hand entered Ms Headley’s property through the open back door, uninvited. They both shouted and swore at the victim, before Kelly Hand attacked her. Ms Headley told them both to leave. But they returned and together attacked the victim again. They kicked and punched her on the head, knee’d her in the face and stamped on her body. They also tried to gouge out her eyes. They persisted in the attack after she became unconscious. The victim was taken to Crosshouse hospital, where she was kept overnight for observation. The attack left her with extensive bruising and swelling to her face, as well as tenderness to her neck and back.

Charge (2)

Graeme Spence and the victim, Steven Frew, had an arrangement. For about a year Steven Frew supplied his prescription medication to Spence in return for money. In late December 2017, Steven Frew said that he intended to end the arrangement. Spence reacted by telling Steven Frew that he would “cave his head in”. Two days later, Spence went to the victim’s home, taking with him a pair of green workers’ gloves, a baseball bat and silver wire. Kelly Hand went with him. She took a pair of nail clippers which had a 3” long blade as an attachment.

When the victim refused to handover the medication, a confrontation took place. First, Spence put on the gloves. Then he used his feet and the baseball bat to kick and strike the victim on the head. Next the victim was tied to a chair and a length of wire pulled tightly around his throat in attempt to strangle him, putting his life in danger. After 5 or 10 minutes, the wire was removed. Then Hand repeatedly stabbed the victim on his right buttock and leg using the 3” blade.

The assailants both left the flat and the victim must have thought that his ordeal was at an end. He was mistaken. Moments later they both returned and resumed the attack. At the instigation of Spence, Kelly Hand attempted to force the blade into the victim’s neck.

This must have been a truly frightening experience. The victim sustained an elbow fracture as well as 9 wounds, for which he received treatment in hospital, where he was an inpatient for three days.

Personal Circumstances

Kelly Hand (31)

You are the only one who stands convicted of both crimes, which were committed six months apart. I note that you have a troubled upbringing, have misused drugs and alcohol in the past and that you have two children, one still a baby. I must, however, have regard to the nature of the crimes, the consequences for the victims, and your record.

Your schedule of prior convictions begins in 2004 and contains about 35 offences, ranging from theft to assault and breach of court orders. You were on two bail orders at the time of the offences. You had only been released from prison for two months when you committed the first crime in June. You express no remorse for the first victim and a limited amount for the second victim, whom you have known since childhood. The Criminal Justice Social Work Report recommends that there be a period of post-release supervision, as you pose a high degree of risk to the general public when at liberty.

Clare Hand (30)

You have a limited offending record, but both your previous convictions (in 2007 and 2011) were for crimes of violence. You seek to minimise your role in the attack on the victim and have little empathy for her.  You pose a medium degree of risk to the public.

Graeme Spence (39)

Your list of prior convictions stretches back to 1996 and mainly involves offences of dishonesty. But it also includes assault, breach of the peace, misuse of drugs and breach of bail orders. Almost all these crimes have been dealt with at summary level. This crime, which you instigated, involves an escalation in your offending.

While you take responsibility for the assault on SF and have genuine remorse, it is difficult to understand why you perpetrated this calculated offence. You yourself have been a victim of serious violence in the past.


I am not satisfied that there is a suitable alternative to custody for any of you.

Kelly Hand

If you had been convicted after trial, I would have imposed an extended sentence. My starting point would have been custodial periods of three years on charge (1) and four years on charge (2), to be served consecutively. Having regard to the mitigating factors, I would have rounded down the total custodial period to 80 months, of which 6 months would have been attributable to the bail aggravations. I would have set the extension period at 3 years to reflect the recommendation in the CJSWR.

Your guilty plea at the trial diet did have a limited utility. I shall therefore discount the custodial part of the sentence by one fifth to 64 months (5 years 4 months). As to backdating, I take into account the time you have spent in prison on another matter between February and June of this year. I shall direct that my sentence will commence on 8 May 2018. The extension period will remain the same, as it is there for the protection of the public.

Clare Hand

You played a less prominent role in the first attack, only have two prior convictions and present less risk to the public than your sister. After trial I would have sentenced you to two years’ imprisonment. In your case I apply a one sixth discount, as although you pled guilty, you did not appear at court and a warrant had to be issued, although it was not executed. You will therefore go to prison for 20 months (1 year 8 months), backdated to 26 June 2018, when you were first remanded in custody in respect of this matter.

Graeme Spence

You were the main perpetrator of the premeditated attack on SF. You went to his house equipped with the items you used to carry out this very serious assault, which involved an element of torture. You have an extensive record and have been assessed as presenting a medium risk of harm to the public and the CJSWR recommends that you also receive post release supervision. After trial I would have imposed a sentence of five years in prison, with an extension period of two years. Because of your plea of guilty at the trial diet, I discount the sentence by one fifth. You will go to prison for 4 years, backdated to 3 January 2018, when you were first remanded in custody in respect of this matter. The extension period will remain at two years."

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