HMA V Graham Moffat

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Tuesday 26 May, Lord Matthews sentenced Graham Moffat to 6 years and 6 months imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to attempting to murder a homeless gentleman.

On sentencing Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

"You have pleaded guilty to attempting to murder a homeless gentleman by setting fire to a sleeping bag in which he was sleeping in the early hours of the morning. As it happens he woke up due to the heat, fumes and smoke coming from the foot of his sleeping bag and there were no flames. This was both his and your good fortune. Had fate taken another turn he would have met a most horrible death and you would be facing a charge of murder.

 As it is, the charge of attempted murder is itself an extremely serious one but as yet it is not clear why you, a man with a very limited record, did what you did. Counsel rightly describes your actions as bizarre.

I can only assume that your well-documented mental health difficulties, to which your Counsel has referred, played a significant part, although there is no suggestion that you were not legally responsible for your actions. On the other hand, it is no doubt the case that the consumption of alcohol and drugs also contributed and that, as you will be aware, is not an excuse.

I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf and taken account of all the circumstances, the CCTV footage and the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work report, the psychiatric report obtained on your behalf and the extracts from the Crown psychiatric report. I am satisfied that only a  custodial sentence is appropriate due to the serious nature of this offence but I shall temper what would have been the sentence because of your mental health.

I will also reduce the sentence by a small margin given that you have pleaded guilty but this, of course, is the second indictment arising out of this matter, you having previously failed to appear at a trial diet.

The sentence for crimes of attempted murder can be very high indeed. In this case I would have had in mind a sentence of the order of imprisonment for ten years had it not been for the contribution which i accept was made by your mental health. But for the timing of your plea, it would have been imprisonment for 7.years. As it is, it will be imprisonment for 6 years and 6 months to run from 20 February 2020.

On the charge of failing to appear for trial, I am told that you were not feeling well and were in fact arrested almost the next day. There were no witnesses in attendance. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and treat all this as a consequence of your chaotic lifestyle rather than a deliberate attempt to avoid justice and I will simply admonish you."