HMA v THOMAS BENNIE SMITH

Today at Glasgow High Court Lord Turnbull sentenced Thomas Bennie Smith to life imprisonment for the murder and sexual abuse of Diane and Holly Fallon between 28 March and 8 April 2009. The punishment part was fixed at 32 years.

On sentencing Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court:

“You have chosen not to say what you did to this mother and daughter. You have also chosen not to say why you did these terrible things.

The consequence is that their friends and family members will for ever be left with the torment of imagining what could have happened to cause such appalling injuries and in what order the various events took place.

In particular they will be left with the dread that Holly may have known of her mother’s fate and may have been kept alive and abused for some time after her mother was killed.

Ordinary language cannot adequately describe the level of violence which you engaged in. To say that you sexually abused each of your victims would be to cloak your conduct in a veneer of understatement which disguises the true nature of your activities.

What you did to each of your victims is to my mind more properly described as sadistic torture.

I will take what account I can of the fact that you accepted your responsibility in a general sense from an early stage. Although it is perfectly obvious that you told nothing like the truth about how they had been murdered.

However even in these courts, where we hear and see the worst of humanity and where acts of depravity and atrocity are regularly described, your conduct stands out as exceptional.

In perpetrating these crimes you have set a bench mark for atrocity below which it is difficult to imagine any other human being sinking. The sentence which is imposed must mark that fact.

The sentence for murder is fixed by law as life imprisonment. Most people who are sentenced to life imprisonment become eligible to be released on parole at some stage.

Whether you will ever be released, or whether you will serve your whole life in prison is not for me to determine. That will be a matter for the Parole Board and the relevant Government Minister.

What I must do though is set a minimum period which must pass before you will ever even be entitled to apply for parole. That period is known as the punishment part.

In fixing that period I take account of the terrible physical injuries inflicted by violence on each victim.

I take account of the fact that you took two lives, one being only a child.

I take account of the sexual torture inflicted on each victim, including the anal and vaginal rape of the 10 year old girl.

I take account of the fact that you disposed of their bodies in the most callous fashion imaginable.

As set against these features the mitigation offered on your behalf is slight indeed.

One each charge I will impose a sentence of imprisonment for life. These sentences will run concurrently and date from 9 April 2009.

On each charge I would have imposed a punishment part of 35 years in prison. Given the fact that you have pled guilty I am obliged to consider restricting that to reflect your plea and the utilitarian value which it represents.

Given the history of this case I will restrict the appropriate punishment part on each charge by a period of three years, meaning that the punishment part imposed on each charge is 32 years”.

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