HMA v John Gilchrist

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 3 April 2019, Lady Carmichael sentenced John Gilchrist to eight years imprisonment after he pled guilty to attempted murder.

On sentencing Lady Carmichael made the following statement in court:

"Mr Gilchrist, you have pled guilty to attempted murder. After what seems to have been a relatively minor exchange of words as you and your father were leaving a wake, you made a choice to go your home and arm yourself with a large knife and return to the premises where the wake was being held. You then attacked the complainer with the knife by stabbing him on the head and the body. By pleading guilty to attempted murder you have acknowledged that you acted with, at least, wicked recklessness as to whether your attack would have fatal results. Thankfully none of the injuries in fact proved to be life threatening, but in an attack of the sort you carried out, that is due to good fortune alone. The injuries you inflicted to the complainer's head were very unpleasant indeed, requiring 31 staples. You caused a fracture of his skull.

You have previous convictions, including a domestic assault involving the use of a knife. This offence is however much more serious than any of your earlier offences, none of which has resulted in a sentence of imprisonment.

In your favour I note that you have been willing to admit your conduct from a fairly early stage, although it was only at the trial diet that you recognised that it amounted to the crime of attempted murder. I also see from the criminal justice social work report that you now recognise that alcohol is a significant factor in your offending. You are determined to use your time in custody productively. You have expressed your regret and remorse publicly through your counsel this morning. All of that is to your credit.

An attack of this sort inevitably attracts a significant custodial sentence. Had it not been for your plea of guilty I would have sentenced you to nine years in prison. As it is, I will sentence you to eight years in prison. Even at the stage at which it came, your plea has avoided the need for a trial and I recognise that in discounting your sentence in the way that I have. Your sentence will be backdated to 6 March 2019."