HMA v Dawn Reilly

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Monday 9 March 2020, Lord Boyd imposed a community payback order with a two year supervision requirement and 200 hours of unpaid work after the offender pleaded guilty to breach of the peace, by taking a photograph of a complainer while he gave evidence in a High Court trial.

On sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement in court:

"You have been convicted on your own plea of committing a breach of the peace by taking a photograph of a complainer while he gave evidence in a High Court trial and posting it on social media along with derogatory comments.

While I accept that it may have been impulsive I have no doubt that the intention was to intimidate him and other potential witnesses. You displayed the mentality of the mob; your actions struck at the heart of the administration of justice. In ordinary course such an offence would incur a substantial prison sentence.

I have however listened carefully to what your counsel has had to say. I have also seen the social work report and the letter from your GP. I accept that in your case there are circumstances which mean that I should consider a non-custodial disposal. This offence occurred when you were under considerable strain witnessing your 18 year old son on trial for attempted murder.

The Crown have confirmed that the incident happened in the immediate aftermath of threats from the witness against those in the dock including your son. For reasons I need not rehearse you are especially close to your son and you were under substantial emotional pressure.

Your actions in the end appear not have impacted on the trial as your son along, with his co-accused, was convicted. You have been a victim of domestic abuse over a prolonged period of time and you continue to suffer the mental effects of such abuse. You have a relatively minor record of convictions.

You are a single mother to six children. The youngest three, who still live with you, are 11, 5 and 1 year old. While there are arrangements to look after them were you to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment they are not without difficulty.

I have no doubt that your children would be adversely affected by a custodial sentence imposed on you. All of that persuades me that if you agree to the conditions I can, consistent with the objectives of sentencing, impose a community payback order."