HMA v Paul Green, Lee Noonan and Robbie Brown

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 29 January 2019, Lord Summers sentenced Paul Green, Lee Noonan and Robbie Brown to life imprisonment with punishment parts of, respectively, 18 years, 21 years and 18 years five months, the three co-accused having been found guilty of the murder of James Watt. On sentencing, Lord Summers made the following statement in court:

“Paul Green, on Friday 23 February 2018 the CCTV evidence and the testimony of various witnesses showed you had been searching for James Watt, the deceased, in your car.  You had learnt that the deceased had attacked and injured John Mitchell, your father.

“Rather than contacting the Police and letting them deal with him, you took the law into your own hands. After tracking the deceased down you attacked him in the close of 130 Carmichael Street Glasgow and struck him about the upper body with a wooden baton. 

“The attack was only broken off because other persons who were on the street that day told you that the person in question was not James Watt.  The footage from the CCTV showed that the deceased walked away from the attack without apparently having sustained any significant injury. 

“Although this was an atrocious piece of behaviour in the open street with an offensive weapon the attack was over almost before it began. That being so I sentence you for this crime, to a period of six months imprisonment. This sentence takes account of the bail aggravation libelled.

“Charge 2 is a breach of section 47 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and involves the carrying of offensive weapons, in this case the wooden baton just mentioned and a knife.

“Your explanations for why you had these weapons in respectively the boot and glove compartment of your car were in the context of this case, implausible and I have no doubt that you intended to use them for unlawful purposes.

“Since there were two weapons and since you plainly intended to cause harm with them I sentence you to one year imprisonment. This sentence takes account of the bail aggravation libelled.

“Charge 5 is a charge of murder. You and your co-accused have been found guilty of this charge. I consider that after the abortive attack on James Watt you asked Lee Noonan and Robbie Brown to join you in an attack on James Watt. 

“It was evident they were armed. In the course of another earlier and unconnected altercation in the street caught on CCTV their knives are visible and if not visible to you then, would have been visible to you thereafter.  That you also had a knife is obvious from earlier CCTV footage. 

“They joined you in your car as you searched for James Watt.  Later after he had been located you and your co-accused went armed with knives to his flat.

“I consider that you went to James Watt’s flat armed with a knife intent on attacking him. I consider that you knew your co-accused were similarly armed. You then participated in what can only be described as a frenzied attack on James Watt who died as a result of the injuries he received.

“The only person with a motive to attack James Watt that day was you. While no doubt you were angry with what had happened to your father, you had plenty opportunity to let your anger cool. Instead you persisted over a period of time in seeking to exact retribution.

“In addition you recruited two willing accomplices in the form of Lee Noonan and Darren Brown, persons who you knew were armed as you were with lethal weapons. I take into account your work record and background and all that has been said in mitigation.

“For this crime I sentence you to life imprisonment as required by law. I order that you must serve 18 years imprisonment as punishment before the possibility of release on licence may be considered by the Parole Board for Scotland. 

“I emphasise that the period of 18 years is a minimum period. You will not necessarily be released after 18 years. This sentence takes account of the bail aggravation libelled.

“The sentences for charges 1 and 4 will run concurrently with the sentence for charge 5. The sentences imposed will run from 12 March 2018 when you were taken into custody.

“Lee Noonan, at the close of the Crown case you pleaded guilty to charge 3, an offence under section 47 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995.  This involved the possession of a golf club and a knife. 

“Unlike Mr Green, the first accused, you have an appalling record of prior convictions. Since reaching the age of criminal responsibility you have been a regular visitor to the criminal courts. Many of these offences involve offensive weapons of the type you used on Friday 23 February 2018.

“In these circumstances I will impose a sentence of three years imprisonment in respect of this charge.

“You were also found guilty of the murder of James Watt. Although you were not it seems the author of the plan to attack James Watt, the CCTV images and the injuries left on his body bear ample testament to your enthusiastic participation in the attack. 

“It is also evident that you were a willing assistant in Paul Green’s efforts to track down Mr Watt. The fact that you had no reason to attack James Watt or to assist Paul Green find James Watt renders your participation in his killing deeply troubling. 

“Your criminal record demonstrates that you are a dangerous young man. In these circumstances and mindful of the need to protect society from those who wield knives in this way, I sentence you to life imprisonment. This will run concurrently with your conviction under charge 3.

“I fix the punishment part at 21 years. This consists of 20 years in connection with the crime of murder and one year to charge 8. 

“You pleaded guilty to charge 8. This attack, again with a sharp instrument, took place the day following the murder. This is a separate incident and requires to be sentenced separately.

“You attacked the complainer Gary Crawford as he was making his way back to his car after watching a football match at Ibrox. That you acted in this way the day after murdering James Watt underlines the risk you pose to society.  

“In considering the part it has to play in the punishment part I have decided to proceed on the basis that three years imprisonment is appropriate to charge 8. I attribute two years to considerations of retribution and deterrence and half that figure to one year to take account of early release provisions. The effect of this is that, as I have stated, that I fix the punishment part at 21 years.

“Charge 9 is another offence under section 47 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995. It involves your possession of the weapon used to stab Gary Crawford and a pole. For this crime I sentence you to one year imprisonment to run concurrently with charge 8. This sentence will run from 12 March 2018.

“Robbie Brown, you pled guilty to charge 4, a charge under section 47 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995. You have a prior conviction for knife crime. I sentence you to one year imprisonment for this crime.

“You were also convicted of murder under charge 5. Like Lee Noonan you were a willing participant in a brutal attack even though James Watt, the deceased, was a man you had no previous dealings with. 

“Your Criminal Justice Social Work report makes bleak reading. Although something is made of your alleged reluctance to participate in the attack in the report there is no sign of that reluctance in the CCTV images. 

“They show you swaggering about in the backcourt of Carmichael Street before the attack and in the aftermath returning with what looks suspiciously like a ‘trophy of war’. I speak of the foot stool which is the subject of charge 6.

“For the crime of murder there is only one sentence which is fixed by law, and that is life imprisonment. I have however to fix the punishment part.

“In balancing the considerations that inform your sentence I have had regard to your previous criminal convictions, and your willingness to participate in an attack on someone who you did not know.

“I have had regard to the fact that you were 18 years of age at the time of the attack and have it seems spent most of your life in care, young offender’s institutions or prison.

“Balancing these considerations and being mindful of the need for comparative justice I have decided to fix the punishment part at 18 years and five months. I attribute 18 years of that sentence to the crime of murder.

“In connection with charge 11, I would have sentenced you to one year imprisonment for this crime. I attribute eight months to considerations of retribution and deterrence and half the balance to take account of the early release provisions. Hence four months of the punishment part of the crime of murder is attributable to this offence.

“In connection with charge 12 you pled guilty this charge. It includes among other things spitting on Richard McMillan, the policeman who was processing you.

“For this disgusting behaviour and the other matters, I apportion three months of the punishment part to this crime and attribute two months to considerations of retribution and deterrence. Half the balance is one monthI attribute this to the punishment part.

“Hence the punishment part is 18 years and five months. This sentence will run from 12 March 2018.

“I must also mention charge 6. You pled guilty to the theft of the stool just mentioned. I sentence you to one month imprisonment to run concurrently with your sentences for charge 5 and 6.”