Today at the High Court in Glasgow Lord Matthews sentenced John Reid to a period of five years detention after he pled guilty to the culpable homicide of Simon San on the 11 August 2010 at Lochend Road, Edinburgh.

On sentencing Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

“You have pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Simon San, a hard-working and much loved son and brother whose only crime was to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While engaged in his duties as a delivery driver serving the public he was beset by a gang of youths of which you formed part.

His car was rocked for no apparent reason whatsoever and when he emerged from it, showing no antagonism, you and your associates, acting like pack animals, forced him backwards until, without any provocation, you delivered a blow to his face which poleaxed him. The blow was not so powerful as to cause any facial fractures but it was likely, according to the defence pathologist Professor Busuttil, to have been heavy and forceful. There is no doubt that it was cowardly and not expected by Mr San, who had no opportunity to prepare or defend himself. The upshot was that he fell backwards very heavily and his head struck the ground, causing a skull fracture and extensive damage to the brain. His death thereafter was inevitable.

Culpable homicide can take many forms including the use of weapons or substantial force at one end of the spectrum or conduct which might be thought of itself to be relatively insignificant at the other.

In your case I accept that the blow which you struck might on another day have led to no more than minor injury and that you could not have foreseen that death would result.

However, despite your age I cannot divorce your actions from the surrounding circumstances. This was not just a glancing blow in the context of a stand up fight but the culmination of serious aggression towards an innocent victim.

You have had a troubled background and have been involved in offending behaviour resulting in your being made the subject of a supervision order. I appreciate, nonetheless, that this offence represents a major escalation in your behaviour and that the consequences for you will be grave.

However, as I have had sadly to remark before in the cases of other offenders who have appeared before me, those consequences are insignificant when compared to the devastation you have wreaked in the lives of Mr San’s family, for whom he was not only a breadwinner but a source of constant love and support. You are very young but at least you will have the opportunity to grow older. No sentence I can pass will be any form of compensation for their loss.

Taking account of all the material which has been placed before me I have concluded that had this matter gone to trial resulting in a conviction in terms of your plea I would have ordered you to be detained for a period of seven and a half years.

Bearing in mind the fact that you tendered a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity. I sentence you to detention in such place and under such conditions as may be determined by the Scottish Ministers for a period of five years. That will run from 16 August 2010, when you first appeared on Petition.

The author of the social enquiry report suggested that a supervised release order could usefully be imposed were the sentence to be one of under four years detention but that otherwise the Parole Board should be left to determine suitable release conditions. In these circumstances I make no further order”.