HMA v Fraser Angus Neill

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 29 November 2018, Lady Scott sentenced Fraser Neil to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 19 years after the accused was found guilty of the murder of Hannah Dorans. On sentencing, Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

“Fraser Angus Neil, you have been convicted of the murder of Hannah Dorans.  

“She was only 21 years old, much loved by many and full of kindness and hope for the future. She was just about to reach her goal of training to become a paramedic.

“Her family have been left utterly devastated and are forever bereft.

“The Crown case was that this was a deliberate and planned murder. The evidence was that you had been possessive and controlling throughout your relationship with her.

“On about 29 January 2017, some two weeks before you murdered her, Hannah Dorans  had asserted her independence and had finished the relationship. It was clear from the evidence you did not – or could not – accept this and you were jealous believing she had met someone else.

“Within this two-week period you bombarded her with an avalanche of, by my calculations, about 800 texts, messages and calls, some of which indicated that you could not cope, whilst others varied from asking questions to making demands, from cajoling to bullying; from repeated declarations of love to accusations of infidelity; from threats to kill yourself to statements suggestive of harm to her.

“These messages were manipulative and were apparently designed to firstly, re-assert control and secondly, to get her to attend your flat, alone. Finally, following your threats to destroy the insurance documents that she needed, Hannah agreed to come and collect them.

“The day before she came, you carried out searches on your computer using the words ‘culpable homicide’, ‘diminished responsibility’ and ‘sentence’.

“Inside your flat you strangled her to death using a ligature. There was also deep bruising found internally which is indicative of the use of severe blunt force. A neighbour heard her repeated cries of ‘please stop’.

“This was a vicious and violent means of causing death and it requires a substantial sentence.

“On the other hand I take into account that you have no history of violence or of offending and you are a young man of 25 years.

“Since leaving school you have contributed to society by your employment and your voluntary work which has included First Aid and hospital work.

“Your opportunities have been restricted by your epilepsy and more recently by your depression. 

“I take into account that deletions were made to the verdict and your counsel has submitted you have expressed remorse.

“Your treating psychiatrist has assessed you as suffering from depression and an adjustment disorder. The additional psychiatric report before me suggests that you present a high risk of suicide but your suicidal thoughts are not associated with any serious mental illness such as a serious depressive disorder.

“This psychiatrist did find you demonstrate significant traits in keeping with an Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder; a Dissocial Personality Disorder and a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She has suggested a future further assessment of your personality in order that, amongst other things, the risks around your own health and the risk to others can be managed safely.

“You have from the outset accepted killing Hannah, but you say you have amnesia and you have no recall, at all, of what happened within your flat. The verdict of the jury was to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you murdered her.

“In charge 4 your conduct in contacting Hannah’s parents was not merely an error of judgement, it had the obvious result in causing great distress. However, in view of the life sentence on the charge of murder I will simply admonish on that charge.

“I sentence you to life imprisonment. I must also impose the period called the punishment part of that sentence which must pass before you are entitled to apply for parole.

“When that period has passed your release from prison will be a matter for the Parole Board. Even after release you will be on licence and subject to recall to prison for the rest of your life.

“I impose a punishment part of 19 years backdated to 8th January this year.”