HMA v William Leiper and Robert Leiper

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (26 June 2019), Lady Scott sentenced William Leiper to 10 years imprisonment and Robert Leiper to a Community Payback Order and a Restriction of Liberty Order after they were convicted of assaulting a man trying to cycle home.

On sentencing, Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

“On the day in question you had both been drinking heavily. Shortly after midnight you William Leiper were making your way home along Paisley Road West, Glasgow, near to the area outside The Old Toll Bar. You were seen to shout at and push a couple near a bus stop and behave in a threatening and aggressive manner. You then approached a group of four friends in a threatening manner. Finally you approached the victim, Mr Clements and his 3 friends who were retrieving their bicycles from outside the pub, intending to set off home. You started shouting at them and they ignored you in the hope that you would go way. You shouted again and then left. You were armed with a knife. Within a moment you returned with your brother. You, Robert Leiper, went up to the victim Mr Clements and punched him on the face. You then continued to assault Mr Clements by repeatedly punching and kicking him and forcing him to the ground. Then, whilst your victim was on the ground, you William Leiper, whilst acting alone, took out the knife and stabbed Mr Clements 27 times. Your victim was unable to defend himself. His friends intervened and both of you ran away. Later you were both detained and you William Leiper threatened police officers and you had to be forcibly detained. Your victim required emergency surgery and a major operation to repair widespread organ damage to his colon, his badly damaged spleen and repair to arrest internal bleeding, especially from the liver. This was the first of 4 major abdominal surgeries. On one occasion the victim, his family and friends were told he would be unlikely to survive. Your victim Mr Clements has been left with ongoing treatment and will require lifelong medication. He had been a fit and active man in various sports. He ran in the 10km marathon some two months before you cut him down. Now he is unable to take any physical exercise and has permanent physical impairment. He has been unable to return to work. He was a leading professional and the company director of a professional practice. He led a team of professionals in multi-million pound contracts. The impact of this attack upon him has been physically, emotionally and financially devastating. His role and the contribution he can make in his life has been profoundly affected. His family, employees and friends, especially those present at the attack, have all been badly affected. I sentence you as follows. Robert Leiper, the Crown have accepted that your involvement was restricted to the initial assault and is entirely separate to that of your brother. Nonetheless, you initiated the attack, you repeatedly punched and kicked your victim and after he was on the ground you stood by whilst your brother stabbed him. I consider your conduct is serious. On the other hand - and of importance - you are 25 years old and appear before me as a first offender. You and your brother have a background rooted in a childhood of neglect, violence and deprivation. Despite this difficult childhood you have a history of good character, steady employment and you are assessed as presenting a minimal risk of re-offending. I have decided to impose a non-custodial sentence and this itself reflects any discount which I would otherwise have made. William Leiper, yours was a truly murderous attack. It was random and senseless. You did not know your victim. He did nothing to you. It was unprovoked. You were looking for violence with someone and your victim just happened to be there. The degree of violence you inflicted was appalling. This kind of mindless violence with knives causes real public concern and I take into account the public interest in deterrence in this sentence. You have previous convictions, including in 2015 the use of a knife, in an assault with intent to rob when you were, as here, heavily intoxicated, and a further assault. It is clear from the Criminal Justice and Social Work Report (CJSW) that you have long carried a knife, and you have a propensity for violence. You appear to have been badly affected by your childhood experience and you have had problems from an early age. The background report shows you have significant problems with alcohol and – sober or drunk – with anger. In your favour you have pleaded guilty and you have done so at an early stage of proceedings. I also take into account steps you have taken to address you alcohol problems and you have taken a positive approach in custody. I sentence you to 10 years imprisonment reduced from a period of 13 years to reflect your early plea, 6 months of this is attributable to the bail aggravation and this sentence is backdated to 8 October 2018.