HMA v CHRISTOPHER ANDREW SOMERVILLE

Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Pentland imposed an extended sentence of twelve years on Christopher Somerville after he pled guilty to the culpable homicide of William Young at Mount Stewart Street, Carluke on 11 April 2010. The sentence is composed of a custodial term of 8 years followed by an extension period on licence of 4 years.

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

"Christopher Andrew Somerville, you have pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Mr. William Douglas Young on 11 April 2010.  This was a brutal and sustained attack on a vulnerable man, who had done you no harm. After you had repeatedly punched Mr Young on the head while he was lying on the floor, you dragged him out of the flat where you had been drinking with him into the hallway; there you continued to assault him. Even when he collapsed onto the ground you did not desist. In fact at that point, having disabled your victim, it would appear that your level of violence increased in that you continued to punch him before stamping on his face and kicking him in the head. You had to be pulled away by your partner.

Mr Young suffered a number of serious injuries leading to his death. In particular, there was extensive bruising on his face, head and neck and multiple fractures of facial bones. In addition, there was a fracture of his thyroid cartilage. All this testifies to the high level of violence involved in this attack and to the gross recklessness of your conduct.

It appears that your violence was fuelled by drink, but this, of course, cannot amount to any sort of excuse.

I note that you have no analogous previous convictions and that you have expressed remorse for your conduct. I note too that the Social Enquiry Report states that you have demonstrated some insight into the tragic consequences of this crime, not just for the deceased, but also for his family and friends.

Some of the suffering you have caused to others is powerfully brought out in the victim impact statements.

The Social Enquiry Report assesses you as presenting a high level of risk to the public, a view which seems to me to be entirely justified. In the circumstances, I am in no doubt that the protection of the public requires me to impose an extended sentence on you.

This is in two parts. The first part is custodial. In view of the sustained and ferocious nature of the present offence, I consider that you must serve a substantial period of imprisonment. Had you not pled guilty, I would have imposed a sentence of 12 years imprisonment. As the law requires me to do, I shall reduce this to 8 years to take account of your early plea. 

The second part of the extended sentence is called the extension period, during which you will continue to be on licence on conditions fixed by the Scottish Ministers.  If you breach those conditions or commit another offence, you may be returned to custody in respect of the current sentence.  This would be over and above any sentence for a new offence.  I fix the extension period at 4 years.  The result is that your total extended sentence is 12 years.

The commencement of your sentence will be backdated to 16 December 2010".