HMA v JB

At Glasgow High Court today (7 February 2020) Lord Arthurson sentenced JB to 4 years detention after the offender pled guilty to a single charge of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and danger of life and attempted murder.

On sentencing Lord Arthurson made the following statement in court:

“JB, on 6 January 2020 at Edinburgh High Court you tendered a plea of guilty to an indictment under section 76 procedure libelling a single charge of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and danger of life and attempted murder.  Footage was played in court showing you running across a busy public road in Edinburgh at approximately 5pm on 14 April 2019 before, in a murderous attack, repeatedly striking your 16 year old victim on the body with a large kitchen knife, thereby inflicting upon him life threatening injuries. You raised your right hand in a stabbing motion and struck your victim three times with the bladed weapon. He sustained three penetrating stab wounds, including wounds to his left anterior chest (5cm) and left flank (15cm). He required surgery to repair his stomach and to assess injuries caused to his spleen and pancreas. He also required the insertion of a chest drain. 

You yourself are now aged 17 and were aged 16 at the time of this offence.  You have no previous convictions.  The background report prepared in respect of you is in very positive terms. The author of the report records that you have accepted full responsibility for and demonstrated a high level of remorse for your crime.  Your home background has plainly been a very challenging one, and yet you had prior to your recent remand in custody obtained good employment as an apprentice electrician and apparently demonstrated considerable and commendable resilience in wider aspects of your life. 

I have in addition listened with interest to the detailed submissions of your counsel in mitigation this morning and have considered in particular the psychological report prepared in respect of you by Dr Zeedyk together with two very supportive references which have been tendered concerning you. I propose to give due weight to all that has been placed before me on your behalf in determining an appropriate disposal in your case. In particular I should record that on the face of the available material I accept that your conduct on the date of this offence was on any view out of character for you.

In the whole circumstances I have concluded nevertheless that the gravity of the index offence in your case requires, in the public interest and having regard to the sentencing objectives of deterrence, punishment and community safety, the imposition of a significant custodial sentence. In the light in particular of your young age at the time of this offence and indeed today, however, and having regard also to the favourable terms of the reports to which I have referred, and further bearing in mind the sentencing principles of proportionality in general and your own welfare in particular, I consider that I can reduce the usual range of starting-point or headline custodial sentence that would normally be imposed for such a conviction in respect of a first offender adult in your position to a period on this indictment of 6 years.  A plea of guilty was of course offered on your behalf and accepted by the Crown at the earliest opportunity in these proceedings and you are therefore properly entitled to a full discount on that custodial tariff. 

You will therefore serve a sentence of 4 years detention, duly discounted from that period of 6 years.  That period will be backdated to 6 January 2020, being the date of your conviction and initial remand in custody.

In the interests of clarity I should add that I consider that to impose any community-based disposal such as that commended to the court by your counsel and by the author of the background report, or indeed to impose a lesser custodial sentence than the one I have selected in your case would be inappropriate and unrealistic given the gravity of the crime to which you have pled guilty on this indictment. Finally, it is to be hoped that the period of licence which this sentence will inevitably permit will assist you in your re-integration into the community in due course.”

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