HMA v James Martin

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (12 March 2020) Lord Boyd of Duncansby imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on James Martin after the offender admitted attempting to murder his mother.

This is a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite time with release only if the Parole Board is satisfied that the offender would no longer endanger public safety. The minimum time the offender must serve before the Parole Board can consider release is 4 years.

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

“I shall make an order for lifelong restriction; that is a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period of time. It means that you may only be released if the Parole Board is satisfied that your release would not endanger public safety.

I am required to set a punishment part which is that part of the sentence which you serve before you may apply to the Parole Board for your release.

On 29 January last year you brutally assaulted your mother and attempted to murder her. You repeatedly struck her on the head and body with a rolling pin causing her to fall to the ground and then repeatedly kicked and punched her. You left her lying on the floor in her own house where, some three and a half hours later, she was found by her sister.

She suffered a catalogue injuries the most serious of which was an acute subarachnoid brain bleed but also included fractures to her jawbone, cheekbone, collar bone and ribs and various lacerations. She was in hospital and subsequently in rehabilitation until May last year. She is now permanently impaired. She has problems in communicating. She is unable to live independently and now lives in supported accommodation. She cannot go out alone. She cannot enjoy hobbies. She cannot remember how to do simple tasks. In short her quality of life has been significantly diminished.

This is your fourth conviction in the High Court. In 1999 you were sentenced to three years imprisonment for assault and robbery. In 2001 you were convicted of two charges of assault and robbery while on bail and sentenced to 63 months imprisonment. In 2005 you were convicted of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement and danger of life and robbery. You were sentenced to an extended sentence of 12 and a half years of which 7 and a half was the custodial part and 5 extended. You were released on licence on 13 December 2010 and recalled to prison on 1 July 2011 because you breached your licence conditions. You were released on 26 October 2018 and this offence occurred three months later.

 You have history of targeting vulnerable women who are either older or, in the case of the 2005 conviction, a professional SACRO worker who had been working with you for some time.

I have listened carefully to everything that counsel has said on your behalf. In particular I am aware of your childhood circumstances and counsel is no doubt correct to say that your present circumstances are fashioned by what happened to you as a boy. I take all of that into account.

I have two risk assessment reports from forensic psychologists. One of them is from Stephen Evans commissioned by the court, and the other from Lorraine Johnstone was carried out on your behalf. Both of these conclude that you present a high risk to the safety of the public at large.

Having regard to the nature of the crime to which you have pleaded guilty, your criminal record and the terms of these reports I am satisfied that there is a likelihood that, if at liberty you will seriously endanger the lives, or physical or psychological well-being of members of the public at large. Accordingly I am satisfied that the risk criteria are met.

I shall make an order for lifelong restriction; that is a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period of time. It means that you may only be released if the Parole Board is satisfied that your release would not endanger public safety.

I am required to set a punishment part which is that part of the sentence which you serve before you may apply to the Parole Board for your release.

Had I been imposing a determinate sentence I would have imposed an extended sentence of 21 years of which the custodial part would have been 13 years with 8 years extended. The part of the custodial sentence which would have been necessary for the purposes of retribution and deterrence, ignoring public protection, is 12 years.

Ms Livingstone has submitted that I should give the benefit of the full discount for a s.76 (early) plea, namely one third. I have decided that in the circumstances outlined to me I can do that. Accordingly I would have discounted that sentence to 8 years.

I then have to take account of the early release provisions. That means that the figure of 8 years requires to be reduced by half to 4 years. Accordingly I shall set the punishment part at 4 years.

The sentence shall be backdated to 30 January 2019.”