HMA v Paul Alexander Cannop

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 24 September 2019, Lord Woolman sentenced Paul Cannop to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 17 years after the accused was found guilty of the murder of Paul Fairweather.

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

“Paul Alexander Cannop, on the morning of 27 November last year, you went into Paul Fairweather's house.

“For the previous three days and three nights, you had not slept. During that period you consumed crack cocaine, Xanax, and Valium. You had done so despite being subject to a Drug Treatment and Testing Order that had been imposed only the previous month.

“Inside the house, there was a confrontation between you and Mr Fairweather. You stabbed him in the chest with a knife from his kitchen. Although an ambulance arrived within minutes, the best efforts of the paramedics could not prevent his death. The blade had passed through his lung and main pulmonary artery, cutting into a rib bone on the way.

“Mr Fairweather was only 32. The loss of his life has had devastating consequences for his family.

“Their grief is palpable. Here are excerpts from their victim impact statements: ‘words cannot begin to describe how I am feeling’, ‘I’m heartbroken and have no idea how I am going to get over his death’, ‘it’s caused a huge void in my life’, and ‘I hope one day to be able to look at my family and not see despair’.   

“I have carefully read the criminal justice social work report. You continued to maintain to the author that Mr Fairweather was to blame and minimised your own responsibility.

“The jury, however, rejected your version of events. They convicted you of murder. I must therefore impose a sentence of life imprisonment.

 

“I must also set a period before you are eligible for parole, which is known as the punishment part.

“I take into account that you are still relatively young at 26, your troubled background, your health issues and the corrosive effect that drug abuse has had on your life since your teenage years.

“But I also have regard to other sentencing considerations, including punishment and deterrence. You took a man’s life. He had been your friend.

“You have previously been convicted of violent offences and spent time in prison. All attempts to steer you along a different course have failed.

“The social worker reports that you have “limited insight and empathy” and that you present ‘a high risk of serious harm’. Accordingly rehabilitation and reintegration may prove difficult, although I note what Mr Rennucci has said about your resolve to change your life.

“Balancing all these factors, and exercising what clemency I can, I direct that you serve a minimum period of 17 years imprisonment, backdated to 28 November 2018, when you were first taken into custody in respect of this matter.”