HMA v CHELSEA SPEIRS & KAYLEIGH MURRAY

Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Pentland imposed an extended sentence of 10 years on Kayleigh Murray after she pled guilty to the culpable homicide of Paul Woods on the 28 July 2010 in Maryhill Road, Glasgow. Chelsea Speirs pled guilty to assault was sentenced to two years and three months.

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

“Chelsea Speirs, you have pleaded guilty to an offence of assault and robbery on 28 July last year. The Crown has accepted that you have no criminal responsibility for causing the tragic death of Mr Woods and I must sentence you on that basis.

You are only 19, but you have already acquired a disturbing criminal record. I note that you have three previous convictions for assault, one of which was for assault and robbery. According to the Social Enquiry Report, the conviction for assault and robbery occurred when you were drunk and robbed the victim of a bottle of wine. That offence is directly analogous to the present offence. Prior to the present offence, you had breached a probation order; and you had been released on licence from a three month sentence of detention just three weeks before you committed the present offence. Your lifestyle appears to have revolved around heavy drinking in the company of other young people. It seems that you have little respect for authority or for other members of the community.

On the day of the present offence you had again been drinking in the company of others, including your co-accused. In a highly intoxicated state, you approached Mr Woods as he came out of a shop and attempted to rob him of the alcohol he had just bought. He was a complete stranger to you. After struggling with him, you succeeded in robbing him of the drink and made off with it. It is clear that your conduct was entirely unprovoked, violent and persistent. It was aggravated by drink. It displayed, in my view, a high degree of unruly and anti-social drunken hooliganism. There is serious public concern about the prevalence of such behaviour and the courts, in my view, must do what they can to punish those who participate in it and to deter others from engaging in it.

I take account of everything said this morning in mitigation and of the reports available to me. You have already been given the opportunity of community-based punishments, but you have chosen not to take advantage of these. A Probation Order would not, in my view, be realistic having regard to the assessment contained in the Social Enquiry Report. In the circumstances, I consider that a significant custodial sentence must be imposed on you. Had you not pled guilty, I would have sentenced you to 3 years detention. In view of your guilty plea, I am obliged to discount that to two years and 3 months detention. The sentence will be backdated to 4 August 2010.

In the Social Enquiry Report you are assessed as presenting a high risk of re-offending and a high risk of causing further harm. In these circumstances, I am of the view that the protection of the public from serious harm requires that you be made subject to additional supervision when you are released from custody. I therefore intend to impose a Supervised Release Order on you for twelve months.

The effect of that order is that you will be placed under the supervision of a supervising officer for a period of twelve months following your release and you will (i) report to him as he requires, (ii) notify him without delay of any change of address, and (iii) comply with any reasonable requirement which he makes to secure your good conduct and to prevent or lessen the possibility of your committing a further offence.

I wish to make it plain to you that if you fail to comply with the requirements of the supervised release order you are liable to be brought back before this court and returned to detention for a period equal to the time which the order has to run after the date of your failure to comply with its terms.

Do you understand what I have said? 

Kayleigh Murray, you have pled guilty to the culpable homicide of Mr Woods and much of what I have already said about your co-accused applies equally to you. I note that you have a previous conviction for assault as well as convictions for breach of the peace and theft by shoplifting. At the time of the present offence you were on probation. Despite your young age, you appear to have become addicted to alcohol and you regularly took drugs.

At the time you killed Mr Woods you were heavily intoxicated on a cocktail of Buckfast wine, cider and valium. You had, as was customary for you, spent most of the day getting drunk in the company of fellow-minded associates. When Mr Woods attempted to go after your co-accused who had robbed him, you decided to become involved. You approached him and punched him in the face with your closed fist. I infer that you must have delivered this blow with considerable force because it caused Mr Woods to fall backwards, striking his head on the pavement. As a result, he suffered injury to his brain from which he later died. While you did not intend to kill Mr Woods, there is no doubt that drunken violence of the type in which you engaged can, all too often, result in tragic consequences of the type that ensued here.

I have listened with care to the plea in mitigation made on your behalf today and I have considered also your troubled and unhappy personal background, which is explained in the Social Enquiry Report.

All of this, however, is greatly outweighed by the scale of the harm you have caused. The terrible consequences for Mr Woods’ immediate and wider family of your senseless violence are powerfully conveyed in a number of victim impact statements, to which I have given close consideration. He was a young man with a loving partner and two young children. He and they were looking forward to a happy future together. No sentence I impose can begin to undo or compensate for the lasting devastation you have brought about for so many innocent people by your drunken violence.

The Social Enquiry Report in your case assesses you as presenting a high risk of re-offending and a high risk of causing further serious harm. In the circumstances, I am in no doubt that an extended sentence must be imposed on you for the protection of the public.

In view of the gravity of the present offence, your record and the need for protection of the public, I intend to impose on you an extended sentence of 10 years.

The extended sentence is in two parts. The first part is custodial. Had you not pled guilty, the custodial portion would have been 9 years detention. As the law requires me to do, I shall reduce this to 6 years and 9 months because of your guilty 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 3 years and 3 months.  The result is that your total extended sentence is 10 years. The commencement of your sentence will be backdated to 13 August, 2010”.

 

 

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