HMA v William Lannigan McArthur

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 31 May 2019, Lord Uist imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on William McArthur with a punishment part of seven years, after the accused was found guilty of a series of rapes, sexual assaults and attempted murder.

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

“William Lannigan McArthur, as I stated at a previous hearing, you were convicted by the jury of nine crimes – three physical assaults, attempted murder and penetrative sexual assault of a four-year-old girl, three rapes, two of an adult female and one of a 14-year-old girl, and penetrative sexual assault of an adult female. You also pleaded guilty at the outset of the trial to two offences of stalking.

“The crimes which you committed on the four year old girl were ones of unspeakable, indeed incomprehensible, evil. Your treatment of her and the injuries which you inflicted on her were quite horrific.

“Your criminal responsibility is made worse by your previous conviction for three domestic assaults on three different women, two to injury and one to severe injury, for which you were sentenced on 23 April 2015 to 27 months’ imprisonment with a supervised release order for nine months.

“You have continued to deny your guilt of the offences of which you were convicted in this court and shown no remorse.  

“After your conviction I called for three separate reports – a criminal justice social work report, a psychological assessment report and a risk assessment report. All three reports are now available to me and I have considered them in detail, as well as all that your counsel has said on your behalf in mitigation.

“The criminal justice social work report assesses you as being at imminent risk of committing a further domestic offence once you are released from custody and that you are at serious risk of causing sexual or physical harm to any female partner and their children.

“The psychological assessment report states that you manage your negative emotions, such as anger and low mood, by controlling your environment and those within it and that your desire to control and subsequent lack of control may be a trigger for violence within relationships.

“The risk assessment report, which assesses you as being a medium risk in accordance with the guidelines of the Risk Management Authority, states that you have a pattern of violent and sexual offending against adult women in intimate relationships and a pattern of sexual offending against their female children, and that you continued a pattern of behaviour to find new victims and patterns of offending following your release from domestic violence offences.

“In determining the sentence which should be imposed upon you the question which I must first address is whether you meet the risk criteria, that is, whether the nature of, or the circumstances of the commission of, the crimes of which you have been found guilty either in themselves or as part of a pattern of behaviour, are such as to demonstrate that there is a likelihood that you, if at liberty, will seriously endanger the lives, or physical or psychological well-being, of members of the public at large.

“Having regard to the evidence which I heard in the course of the trial, your previous convictions and the contents of the three reports which I have received, and also all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation by your counsel, I am in no doubt that the risk criteria are met in your case.

“Your previous convictions taken along with the convictions returned by the jury in this case demonstrate clearly a pattern of behaviour which shows that you are a serious danger to any women and children with whom you come into contact. I am satisfied that an extended sentence, which your counsel urged me to impose, would not provide sufficient protection for the public.

“I therefore make an Order of Lifelong Restriction in respect of you. That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply for release on licence.

“Had I been imposing a fixed sentence I would have imposed on charges 1 to 5 inclusive, 7, 9, 10, 14 and 19 taken together a sentence of 16 years’ imprisonment. Applying the appropriate formula, I therefore fix the punishment part of your sentence at seven years.

“You must not assume that you will automatically be released at the end of that period: you will be released only when it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison.

“On charges 15 and 18 you are admonished. Your sentence will run from 19 February 2018.

“As a result of the sentence imposed you now become subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.”