HMA v DAVID WRIGHT

Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Tyre sentenced David Wright to a total of 7 years imprisonment after he pled guilty to assault and robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.

On sentencing Lord Tyre made the following statement in court:

“You have a persistent and appalling record of offences involving taking or driving cars dating back to when you were 17 years old.  You have been detained or imprisoned on several occasions and have been disqualified many times from driving, on the most recent occasion being disqualified for life.

You have persistently abused alcohol and drugs and this has no doubt contributed to your lack of self-control when it comes to driving illegally and in particular taking other people’s cars.  You have now reached the point where you have committed offences of a more serious order which have brought you before the High Court for conviction and sentence.

On two occasions you robbed innocent victims of their cars, terrorising them with an imitation gun, demanding that they get out of their cars and hand over the keys to you, and then driving off in their car.  These incidents have left your victims shocked and traumatised.  I regard them as very serious offences.  It is not acceptable that people driving around Glasgow should be at risk of being robbed of their cars by someone pointing a gun at them.

Moreover, on both occasions, you went on to commit further serious road traffic offences.  On the first occasion you left the car which you had stolen wrecked at the side of the road, having smashed it into a fence and shed.  On the second occasion, you drove at high speed around minor roads on the outskirts of Glasgow in a manner which caused other vehicles to have to get out of your way to avoid a collision.  All of this was, of course, observed by the police who had had to mobilise a helicopter to track your route and, in due course, arrest you when you tried to make your escape on foot.  On both occasions you endangered the safety of members of the public other than those whose cars you had taken.  At least on the second occasion you were at the time unfit to drive due to drink or drugs and to make matters worse you were so aggressive to the police casualty surgeon that he was unable to obtain a blood specimen from you.

You apparently have little recollection of committing these offences due to consumption of alcohol and drugs, but that is of course no excuse.

 

Although as I have said these latest offences represent an escalation of your previous offending behaviour, they follow on a long line of convictions for theft of cars, dangerous driving, drink driving, failure to provide a specimen, driving while disqualified and uninsured, and other road traffic offences.  The risk of you re-offending has been assessed as high and you have displayed a disregard for public safety on the occasions when you have taken cars and driven them away.  In sentencing you I have to take account of the need to protect the public from the consequences of such re-offending.

I now turn to deal with the various offences which you have committed and the sentences which I intend to impose in relation to each of these.  Having addressed each offence in turn I will deal at the end with the matter of a discount in recognition of your early plea of guilty.  The terms of imprisonment which I will mention in relation to each individual offence are therefore those which I would have imposed had you not pled guilty at a continued preliminary hearing.

Charge 1 is the charge of assault and robbery on 7 March 2010.  For that offence I sentence you to imprisonment for a period of three years.  On charge 2, namely possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery, I sentence you to imprisonment for a period of one year to run concurrently with the sentence on charge 1.  On charge 3, that of careless driving, I admonish you.  The sentences on Charges 1 and 2 will be backdated to 21 May 2010 when you were first remanded in custody.

Turning to the offences which you committed on 20 May 2010, charge 5 is the charge of assault and robbery.  I regard it as an aggravating feature that you committed such a serious offence for a second time, and accordingly for this offence I sentence you to imprisonment for a period of four years, to run consecutively to the sentence on charge 1.  On charge 6, namely possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery, I sentence you to imprisonment for a period of one year to run concurrently with the sentence on charge 5.

Charge 7 is of dangerous driving.  I consider that this falls to be treated as a separate offence from the assault and robbery and I therefore impose a sentence of imprisonment of one year to run consecutively to the sentences which I have already imposed.  I am however prepared to regard the other road traffic offences as arising out of the same course of conduct.  On charge 8, namely driving while unfit through drink or drugs, I sentence you to six months imprisonment to run concurrently with the sentence on charge 7.  On charge 9, namely failure to provide a blood specimen, I also sentence you to imprisonment for six months to run concurrently with the sentence on charge 7.  These sentences include an allowance for the fact that each offence was committed while you were on bail.

The aggregate of the consecutive sentences which I have imposed is 8 years, which is the period of imprisonment which I would have specified but for your early plea of guilty.  You are entitled to a discount for that plea but in the circumstances of this case I also have to have regard to the need to protect the public from your conduct.  I take into account the assessment that there is a high risk of you re-offending on release and I shall allow a discount of one year, so that the end result is that the term of imprisonment to which I am sentencing you is one of 7 years.  The discount for the early plea will be allocated proportionately to each of the terms of imprisonment which make up the aggregate of the consecutive sentences.

In addition, and again for the protection of the public, and in relation to charge 1, I disqualify you from driving for life.  Your licence will also be endorsed with regard to charges 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9.

Finally, although I can make no order in this regard, I strongly recommend that you seek psychiatric counselling concerning your obsession with taking and driving cars in order to assist in preventing you from returning to the same pattern of offending after your release”.

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