HMA v MICHELLE HEATHER WALLACE

Today at the High Court in Dumbarton Lord Pentland imposed an extended sentence of seven years on Michelle Wallace after she pled guilty to the culpable homicide of Helen McDonald Hewer on the 19 July 2010 in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire. The sentence is composed of a custodial part of 4 years followed by an extension period of 3 years.

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

“Michelle Heather Wallace, I take account of all that has been said on your behalf today, of the contents of the Social Enquiry Report and also of the psychiatric report. It is clear that you have had many difficulties in your life since childhood. But none of the background, to which reference has been made, can possibly serve to excuse your conduct on 19 July this year when you stabbed and killed the lady who had taken you in and apparently looked after you.

I accept that you acted impulsively and without premeditation, that you did not intend to kill Mrs Hewer and that you were immediately remorseful. I acknowledge also that there was a single blow of moderate force. I would wish to stress that the fact that you had been drinking is no excuse at all and I disregard that factor.

What one cannot escape is the fact that you acted recklessly with tragic consequences, not just for your victim but for members of her family and friends. No sentence that I impose can undo the devastating effects of your loss of self-control.

I note that you are assessed as having anger management difficulties and this is borne out by your record of previous offending.

I note too that the Social Enquiry Report assesses you as presenting a high risk of reoffending and a high risk of causing further harm.

In the whole circumstances, I consider that the protection of the public requires an extended sentence to be imposed.

Such a sentence has the effect that, in addition to a term of imprisonment, you will be subject to a licence for an extended period.

The extended sentence is in two parts. The first part is custodial and the second part is supervisory.

In relation to the first part, the sentence of imprisonment I would have imposed had it not been for your guilty plea would have been one of 6 years imprisonment.

As the law requires me to do, I shall discount that term of imprisonment to a term of 4 years imprisonment to reflect your guilty plea. I shall backdate the custodial part of the sentence to 21 July this year.

Secondly, I order that after the expiry of the custodial part of your sentence, you will be subject to licence for an extended period of 3 years.

This means that for a longer period than normal after your release you will be under supervision, and subject to conditions laid down by the Scottish Ministers.

The main purpose of this is to protect the public.

You must understand that if, during the extended licence period, you fail to comply with any of the conditions of the licence, or if you commit any further offence, the Scottish Ministers or this Court may order your return to prison for a further period in respect of this case”.