HMA v David Sharp, John Brookhouse and AS

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (21st May 2020) Lady Scott sentenced David Sharp and John Brookhouse to life imprisonment after the accused pleaded guilty to murder. A punishment part of 15 years was fixed for David Sharp and a punishment part of 13 years was fixed for John Brookhouse. The third accused, AS, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and sentencing was deferred to 6 July 2020.

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

“On 14 February 2020 at Glasgow High Court you David Sharp and your brother John Brookhouse pleaded guilty to the murder of Daniel McGuigan on 24 May 2019 in Stravanan Street Glasgow. The third accused is a child and he has pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of the deceased. I will deal with him separately.

There was a background here of longstanding bad feeling between members of your family and the deceased resulting in verbal arguments and threats on occasions when you came across each other.

On the day in question the deceased was working in his job carrying out garden maintenance. He was seen by you Mr Brookhouse and you told your brother Mr Sharp. Immediately the pair of you agreed to attack the deceased and you both left the house with that purpose, with you Mr Sharp armed with a knife and you Mr Brookhouse armed with an axe. You saw the deceased standing in the street and you both ran at him and attacked him.

You John Brookhouse raised the axe above your head, and swiped at the deceased two or three times and struck him and you David Sharp repeatedly stabbed him. The deceased tried to defend himself and tried to run away. You chased him and the third accused joined in by hitting the deceased with the piece of wood.

The deceased was shouting and screaming and members of the public shouted at you to leave him alone. He fell to the ground injured and he was bleeding heavily.  Passers by tried to help him. The deceased, was conscious but not responsive. Medical staff arrived and administered treatment but the deceased was pronounced dead at 11.29hrs.

Examination at post mortem identified 3 stab wounds on the deceased. The most significant wound was the stab wound to the right side of the back.  This wound penetrated the chest and the right lung, then travelled upwards and into the heart. This wound caused significant bleeding, and was the cause of death.  The force used was such that the blade of the knife broke.

The deceased also had deep incised wounds to the upper chest and back and there were also numerous superficial incised wounds. Finally there was a laceration to the scalp which could have resulted either from being struck or with impact with the ground. 

You murdered Mr McGuigan just as he reached the time in his life where he faced a positive future. He loved his job. He was engaged to be married and he and his partner had plans for their future, including planning to have a family. His partner has been left traumatised and frightened. He was also well loved by his family. His partner and his family, especially his mother, have been left utterly devastated and forever bereft.

You seized the opportunity of the sighting of the deceased to launch this ferocious and murderous attack upon him, in the mid-afternoon in a quiet local street. The wickedness of this attack requires a significant punishment.

I take into account the background circumstances which I accept involved verbal abuse and threats by the deceased over a very significant period of time, directed to the immediate family of the accused. Nonetheless you have accepted your actions were wicked and your motivation carries the hallmarks of revenge. 

David Sharp. You are 39 years old. You used the knife used in the stabbing which caused the death of the deceased.

You have a varied but persistent pattern of offending over the past 20 years. This includes violence with convictions for assault, one to the danger of life and another at solemn level. You also have convictions for possession of weapons. Finally you have a non-analagous conviction from the High Court.

I take into account you have had a childhood blighted by repeated violence resulting in your sustaining a brain injury. It is in this context that your offending began at a young age.  And this injury leaves you without the insight as to your conduct which you might otherwise have.

I take into account all that has been said by senior counsel on your behalf and the fact by this early plea you have accepted responsibility for this murder.

Mr Sharp I sentence you to life imprisonment. I also have to fix a punishment part which is the period you require to serve before you could apply for release on parole. I order a punishment part of 15 years in custody reduced from a period of 18 years which sentence is backdated to 28 May 2019.

John Brookhouse. You acted along with your brother and you armed yourself with the axe and you were aware your brother was armed with the knife.  Whilst you did not cause the fatal blow you did strike the deceased with the axe in this joint murderous attack.

You also have a criminal record but it constitutes a lessor aggravation than that of your brother. It is all at summary level albeit it includes 3 summary assaults. You have only had one prison sentence of 6 months in 2009 and you have not offended since 2015.  I will reflect this difference in the sentence I impose. 

I take account of the fact you also had a childhood blighted by abuse. I take into account the effect of your sentence upon your children and the family and your recognition of you responsibility for this.

I take into account too all that has been said by senior counsel on your behalf.

Mr Brookhouse I sentence you to life imprisonment. I also have to fix a punishment part which is the period you require to serve before you could apply for release on parole. I order a punishment part of 13 years imprisonment reduced from 16 years which sentence is backdated to 28 May 2019.

The Third Accused. You were not party to the adults’ plan but shortly after they went to attack the deceased you followed them and you picked up a piece of wood on the way. After they had stabbed the deceased you joined in hitting him with the piece of wood - at a time when you must have known the seriousness of the violence involved.

I am satisfied this participation by you was in fact minimal, involving a single strike with the stick. I am also satisfied that your actions in choosing to join in the attack, was a choice made whilst you were considerably under the influence of the adult assailants - the co-accused here.

You are a child. You were only 14 years old at the time. Your age carries with it a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility.  Such qualities in the circumstances here, where you acted under the influence of adults and in a context of extreme emotions,  provides some understanding of your actions and makes you less blameworthy.

Further in sentencing you, as a child, I must by law have regard your best interests as a primary consideration. I must also have regard to your welfare and the need for your rehabilitation and future reintegration into society.

The background CJSW report is in positive terms. You have no history of offending. You are assessed as being at a low risk of re-offending.  

Since 12th December 2019 you have been the subject of an interim compulsory supervision order (ICSO) by the Children’s Hearing System. The CJSW reports that you have positively engaged in the various requirements imposed under supervision.

I have decided that it is appropriate for me to firstly obtain further information about your progress under supervision, your maturity and your potential engagement under supervision on a long term basis and secondly, to obtain any advice the Childrens Hearing can provide to assist this court in considering the appropriate disposal. Accordingly I am going to continue the matter of sentencing you to 6 July 2020 in Edinburgh High Court.”