HMA v Charlie Boyle

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 5 August 2019, Lord Clark sentenced Charlie Boyle to two years’ imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to culpably and recklessly shaking a baby to his severe injury and to the danger of his life, and to assaulting a former partner.

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

“Charlie Boyle, you have pled guilty to culpably and recklessly shaking a baby boy and repeatedly throwing him in the air, when he was about 12 weeks old, all to his severe injury and to the danger of his life.

“You had thrown the baby in the air on a previous occasion, and the baby’s mother had told you to stop and not throw the baby in that manner.

“It should be obvious to anyone that throwing a baby in the air can cause the baby’s head to flop forwards or backwards and result in severe injury. But that is what you did.

“Further, when the baby was rushed to hospital, you did not initially tell the medical staff what you had done.

“As a result of your conduct, the baby suffered intra-cranial bleeding, retinal haemorrhages and neurological abnormalities. Without medical treatment, he might have died.

“Very fortunately, I am told that the child – who is now nearly two years and five months old – is currently meeting all of his developmental milestones.

“You have also pled guilty to two charges of assault of your former partner and one charge of using threatening and abusive behaviour towards her. One of the assaults occurred when she was pregnant.

“I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf this morning and I have taken everything into account.

“I note that you are only 23 years of age and were aged 20 and 21 at the dates of the offences, that you have never before served a custodial sentence, that you have been diagnosed as having ADHD and have certain other mental health problems and that you are now in a new relationship and your new partner has very recently given birth.

“I accept that you have expressed remorse for the effect of your conduct on the baby.

“I also acknowledge that you did not deliberately assault the baby. However, culpable and reckless conduct of the kind carried out by you places the lives of babies at real risk. It displays indifference to, or at least gross disregard for, the baby’s safety.

“I have considered all of the disposals available to me. Weighing all of the relevant factors in the balance, I have however concluded that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence, to reflect the gravity of your conduct and to deter others from behaving in such a way.

“In respect of the charge of culpably and recklessly causing severe injury and danger to the life of the baby, I sentence you to one year and eight months’ imprisonment.

“I have taken into account that your guilty plea was offered on 3 June 2019, one week before it was accepted by the Crown. I accept that your plea of guilty had some, albeit limited, utilitarian value.

“I have therefore discounted the period from the sentence of 22 months’ imprisonment, which I would have imposed had you been found guilty after trial.

“If the baby had suffered permanent impairment, a significantly longer sentence would have been imposed.

“In respect of the two charges of assault and the other charge of using threatening and abusive behaviour, all towards your then partner, I have had regard to the nature of the crimes and the fact that no injuries were caused.

“Nonetheless, your conduct towards her constituted intolerable domestic abuse. You also have a previous conviction for assault to injury in a domestic context.

“I sentence you to a cumulo sentence of a further four months' imprisonment on those three charges, one month of which is a result of the aggravation mentioned in charge 4. That sentence will be consecutive to the earlier sentence on charge 1.

“You are therefore sentenced to a total of two years imprisonment, from today’s date.”