HMA v Stephen Paul O’Donnell & Robert Arnold Muir

At the High Court in Glasgow today (13 February 2020) Lady Rae sentenced Stephen Paul O’Donnell and Robert Arnold Muir each to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 20 years after they were found guilty of murder.

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

“You have both been found guilty by a jury of what can only be described as a brutal and savage attack on a man in his own home. He suffered multiple injuries to his head and body caused by the two of you punching, kicking and stamping on him.

While it is difficult to determine the precise order of events, it is reasonable to infer that the attack occurred in two stages with a short gap in between.  Such was its ferocity, much of it was heard by neighbours on different floors in the property.  Part of the attack was within the deceased’s own home but it progressed onto the landing where you left him dying in a pool of blood. 

Some time prior to the attack, the deceased had expressed to one of his neighbours that he was fearful of you Mr O’Donnell and did not want you to come to his flat.  Immediately before going to his home, both of you made comments which, in my view, displayed an intention to do harm to the deceased because he had, apparently, seen you, O’Donnell, in the company of a female who was then a girlfriend of an individual who was then in custody.  You Muir stated that you would back your co-accused up, I quote “110%”.

Immediately after you both returned to your flat where you O’Donnell, in the presence of your co-accused, told a female companion that you had both killed Mr Calvert although at that point he had not yet succumbed. 

Both of you were intoxicated with excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs.  Both were subject to a community service order and on that very day were sent home because you were seen to have drugs in your possession.  Obviously the potential consequences of failing to carry out unpaid work as required was no deterrent to getting intoxicated - with tragic consequences.  These are all aggravating factors.

A further aggravating factor in this case is that you both have records of previous convictions, including offences for violence.

Although your record, Mr O’Donnell, is a more serious one, only three of those convictions were for violence although I you note that both of you have appeared on Indictment for assault  and in your case Mr Muir, that matter was what led you to be on the community service order which featured in this case.  Not only that, you were also on supervision.  You received a short sentence of imprisonment for breach of that order while on remand for this matter.  Having regard to all of these factors I have decided that the sentence should be the same for both of you and that I should backdate the sentence to same date for both. 

I detect little or no genuine remorse in this case. In the criminal justice social work reports, you O’Donnell have tried to minimise your involvement and you Muir claim no memory as a result of intoxication.

Little can be said in mitigation of this terrible killing. The victim impact statement discloses a family which has suffered greatly after the loss of a loved one.

As you will appreciate there is only one sentence which I can impose and that is life imprisonment.

I require now to make an order setting what is called a punishment part, and that is, the minimum period of time which you require to serve in prison to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence.

The effect of this will be that you will not be eligible for parole or release until the whole of the punishment part has expired.  Thereafter it will be for the Parole Board and the Parole Board alone to consider whether you still present a risk to the public or whether you can be released on a life licence with appropriate conditions.  If you are still considered a serious risk, after the punishment part has expired, you will not be released. 

You will both be sentenced to life imprisonment and in view of the brutal nature of this attack, your state of intoxication, your records of previous convictions including the fact that you were both on a community service order at the time and the fact that the attack occurred in the deceased’s own home where you must have entered uninvited the punishment part will be 20 years backdated to 21st March 2019 when you were both first remanded in custody.”

Sentencing Statements

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