HMA v Gary Grimes

At the High Court in Glasgow today (30 July 2020) Lord Matthews sentenced Gary Grimes to 3 years and 9 months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a man to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life.

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

“You pleaded guilty to assaulting a man whom I will not name, in a crowded pub, to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life. You walked over to him and repeatedly slashed him on the face and neck with a Stanley type knife causing in particular a deep incised wound below his right jaw about 10 cm in length, a deep incised wound below his left jaw about 6 cm in length and an incised would on his left cheek about 3 cm in length. Without medical intervention the bleeding could have continued uncontrolled and there would also have been a high risk of infection.

This assault, on 29 December 2018 was no random or spur of the moment attack but came after you had been brooding since 1997 over a report by a relative of yours that the victim had raped her. She did not wish to report this to the police but nonetheless you sought vengeance even after all that time. It appears that your father had indicated that he would deal with the matter, without involving the authorities, and when he did not do so you decided to take the law into your own hands. Your views of the victim were also influenced over the years by hearsay information you received from other people.

You of all people should have known that vigilante behaviour has no place in society, having been a prison officer for many years.

I have listened carefully to what your counsel has said.

I have also read the Criminal Justice Social Work report and a psychological report. You have many symptoms of psychological trauma based on a feeling of being unable to protect your relative and there were other traumas in your life when you were young. Mr Lenehan has drawn my attention to one in particular which has led to recent tragedy. However, while you have previously had the opportunity of undergoing counselling you did not take advantage of that in order to explore your issues. You do not lack insight into the fact that you have mental health difficulties and despite them you were able to obtain qualifications to degree level and lead a useful and productive life. You could easily have refrained from committing this offence. Instead you inflicted trauma on someone else. Your victim, whose impact statement I have read, has been left with scarring in his neck and facial areas, as well as the stigma of being called a rapist without any trial.

Although I appreciate that it will be difficult for you as a former prison officer, a custodial sentence is inevitable. The courts have to do what they can to discourage behaviour like this. Had the matter gone to trial the sentence, taking account of all the circumstances, would have been imprisonment for 5 years. As it is, in view of the timing of your plea, it will be imprisonment for 3 years and 9 months.”