HMA v Robert Stratton

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (17 January 2019), Lord Armstrong sentenced Robert Stratton to 5 years imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to serious assault committed in HM Prison Grampian.

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

"Robert Charles Stratton, you have pleaded guilty, under accelerated procedure, to two grave charges of assault. Both occurred as part of the same incident, which took place in HM Prison Grampian, Peterhead, where you were serving a life sentence, with a punishment part of 23 years, for murder and culpable homicide.

In the first, you assaulted a fellow prisoner by striking him repeatedly, with a bladed weapon, to his head, neck and body, to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life. This was a cowardly and senseless attack, which was brutal, violent, sustained, and perpetrated on an unarmed man. You inflicted incised wounds to both sides of the neck, and a 25 cm wound to the abdomen which required 20 stitches. The involvement of several prison officers was required to bring you under control, and to bring the incident to an end.

The second charge concerns an assault by you on Gillian Connor, a prison officer who, in the course of her duty, was escorting the man you attacked. In the proper execution of her duty, she intervened and, in consequence, was struck repeatedly on the hand with the bladed weapon which you were wielding, to her injury and permanent disfigurement. She sustained four wounds all of which required stitches. By your plea in relation to this charge, you have accepted responsibility for her injuries, but it is accepted that you did not intend to harm Prison Officer Connor, and I recognise that, in that regard, you have expressed remorse and are sorry for what happened to her. In my estimation, she deserves the highest praise for the courage displayed by her in the execution of her professional duty, in seeking to intervene as she did.

You are 44 years of age. I have listened carefully to what has been said this morning, by Mr Ross, on your behalf.

Your criminal record extends from 1991 until September 2017, when you were convicted of murder and culpable homicide. In all, you have some 14 previous convictions. I note that in 2002 you were convicted of attempted murder.

Attacks of this sort in Her Majesty’s prisons are viewed by this court as matters of significant gravity. It is important, therefore, that prisoners such as you who commit such crimes with weapons, in this case a toothbrush handle with two razor blades melted into the plastic, should be clear that they will receive significant custodial sentences when brought to justice.

In your case, having regard to your criminal history and the whole prevailing facts and circumstances, had I been sentencing you after trial, I would have imposed on you, in relation to charge 1, a period of imprisonment of 7 years and 6 months; and in relation to charge 2, a period of imprisonment of 5 years. I recognise, however, that your early plea has resulted in some public utility, and I will reduce these sentences accordingly. In the event, in respect of charge 1, I sentence you to a period of imprisonment of 5 years; and in respect of charge 2, I sentence you to a period of imprisonment of 3 years and 4 months.

These sentences will be served concurrently, and will be served following on from, and consecutively to, the punishment part of the sentence of imprisonment for life which you are currently serving."