HMA v Norman Watt

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 4 October, 2019, Lord Boyd of Duncansby sentenced Norman Watt to 6 years’ imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to a series of violent assaults.

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

“Over an 8 day period last August you subjected your then partner to a series of violent assaults. This included punching and kicking her, striking her on the body with various objects, burning her with a cigarette, choking her with a cardigan and strangling her with your hands to the point where she lost consciousness. These assaults caused her severe injury and were to the danger of her life. I have read her victim statement and it is clear that it has had a significant effect on her. 

The offence is aggravated by involving abuse of your partner under the provisions of section 1 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.

Although you have pleaded guilty to this charge you cannot recall any of the details, you told the social worker that the injuries, which are quite apparent from the photographs, were self-inflicted. Your counsel this morning has clarified that you do, nevertheless, accept responsibility for this offence.You have also admitted breaching the conditions of bail.

You are 67 years old. You have a conviction dating from 1970 but you did not offend again until 2003. Thereafter you have acquired a number of convictions though with significant breaks between them. These convictions however include two for assault and two others with domestic aggravations. As the Criminal Justice Social Work Report (CJSWR) notes this offence appears to be a significant increase in the level of seriousness of offending.

It is clear to me that your abuse of alcohol, amphetamines and heroin has played a significant part in your life in your later years and in the commission of this offence. It is to your credit that you have taken efforts to address these issues.

I take into account everything that has been said on your behalf. I note that members of your family and in particular your daughter, are standing by you. These are protective factors which, along with the fact that the relationship is now at an end, persuade me that there is no merit in imposing an extended sentence.Given your age, the fact that you have never served a custodial sentence before, the part alcohol and substance misuse played in this case and the steps that you have taken to address these issues, the fact that the relationship is now at an end and that you are living with your daughter who is able to keep an eye on you, I consider that I am able to exercise a degree of leniency consistent with my public duty.

On charge 1, had you been convicted after trial, I would have sentenced you to 6 years imprisonment on the main part of the charge but with a further year for the aggravation under section 1of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act making a total of 7 years. Although your plea came after a trial diet had passed I am satisfied that there is a utilitarian benefit in the plea. Accordingly I shall reduce the sentence by 12 months to a sentence of 6 years imprisonment. 

On charge 2 given the fact that you have spent 8 months on remand in respect of this charge I shall admonish you. I shall backdate the sentences to 29 August 2019.”