HMA v John Anthony Quantrell

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 15 January 2019, Lord Clark sentenced John Quantrell to an extended sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of the attempted murder of Christopher Willett. The custodial part will be nine years, which will be followed by an extension period of two years on licence.

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

“John Anthony Quantrell you have been convicted of assaulting Christopher Willett by striking him repeatedly on the head and body with an axe, to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life, and attempting to murder him.

“The jury must have accepted the evidence that you arrived outside his place of work, confronted him while he was in the passenger seat of a car, smashed the passenger window with the axe and attacked him. 

“You struck him four times with the axe. One blow was to his head. He somehow managed to get out of the car.

“Your account of events – which was that he had the axe in the car and had used it to attack you when you confronted him and that you had not struck him with the axe – was plainly rejected by the jury.

“The jury also deleted that part of the charge which alleged that you had joint criminal responsibility with the person who had driven you to and from the scene of the crime.

“As the CCTV footage showed, after the axe attack that person drove his car into Christopher Willett, who at that point was standing in the street, causing him further serious injuries. I take into account that, by the jury’s verdict, you were not responsible for that part of the incident.

“It was clear on the evidence that you had a deep animosity towards Christopher Willett, arising largely from how you viewed him during his long relationship with your daughter, in the later part of which he started a new relationship with your granddaughter. But that does not in any way excuse or mitigate any part of your conduct that day.

“You have a significant history of offending, with over 40 previous convictions, including for offences of dishonesty, public disorder, assault and several counts of robbery.

“I note, however, that there have been significant gaps in your offending history, including in your later years, and that you have no prior conviction for an assault of anything like the gravity of the present crime.

“I have taken account of everything said on your behalf this morning, and I have also had regard to the contents of the criminal justice social work report.  I have also considered the victim impact statement from Mr Willett.

“Having regard to the whole circumstances and to the guidelines on the principles and purposes of sentencing, there is no alternative to a substantial custodial sentence. I impose upon you an extended sentence of 11 years.

“The sentence will consist of two parts. The first is the custodial part, which will be one of nine years imprisonment. Your release will not be the end of that sentence.

“Following your release there will be an extension period of two years, during which you will be subject to certain conditions set by the Scottish Ministers. Breach of those conditions or the commission of further offences may see you sent back to prison to complete the remainder of your sentence.

“The total sentence, therefore, is one of 11 years, of which nine years is custodial. The sentence will be backdated to 11 December 2018, when you were remanded in custody.”