HMA v Caroline Thomson

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Monday 24 February 2020, Lady Rae sentenced Caroline Thomson to 9 years imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to assaulting a baby to his permanent impairment and disfigurement, and to the danger of his life.

On sentencing Lady Rae made the following statement in court:

"You have pleaded guilty at a trial diet to the repeated physical abuse of a defenceless, premature baby. He was only about 4 weeks old when the abuse commenced and ceased when he was admitted to hospital 6 weeks later. He has suffered numerous injuries to his head and body, too many to summarise in this sentence statement. As a result of what you did the child will have lifelong health difficulties and will be permanently impaired. At the age of 20 months he is blind in one eye; he has no speech; he has difficulty eating; and he cannot stand or weight bear. Any assessment of the long term damage to his physical and emotional development cannot be made until he reaches primary school age.

What is particularly concerning in this case is that, despite your plea of guilty, you take no responsibility for what you did. Indeed you deny your guilt, blaming a two year old for some of the injuries. Evidence from medical professionals excludes such a possibility. It is clear, therefore that you have no remorse for what you did. Your conduct toward this child was deplorable.

I note you have a schedule of 25 previous convictions libeling 31 offences, including 10 for violence, albeit all at summary level. All of the information before me discloses that you have had a very difficult upbringing and suffered domestic abuse. You have however had significant support in your lifetime but you have continued to offend. Drugs and alcohol also appear to have been an issue for you. There is no psychiatric recommendation in your case.

Having regard to all of the circumstances of this appalling crime, particularly the consequences for this baby and the period over which you used violence towards him, I have no option but to impose a lengthy custodial sentence. In my view you do not meet the statutory test for the imposition of an extended sentence. Despite your continued denial of guilt I shall allow you a discount although it will only be one year,

The sentence I would have imposed, but for the plea, would have been 10 years. I am prepared to discount that by one year having regard to the stage at which you tendered the plea. The sentence of 9 years imprisonment will be backdated to 21 November 2019 when I first remanded you in custody. I shall instruct my clerk to intimate this case to Scottish Ministers in terms of the protection of vulnerable groups legislation."