HMA v WILLIAM DAVID MCLEAN

Today at the High Court in Glasgow Lord Turnbull sentenced William McLean to life imprisonment after he pled guilty to the murder of Sandra Brown in January 2011 at Barassie Street, Troon. The punishment part of the sentence will be 17 years.

On sentencing Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court:

“The information made available to me from the support group known as Centrestage makes it clear that you are someone who is capable of behaving in an articulate, likeable, polite and charming fashion. However there is also perfectly plainly another very different side to your personality.

That conclusion is clear from the fact that as a young man of only around 19 or 20 you committed an attack of such severity and ferocity that you were sentenced to an extended sentence of 8 years imprisonment.

In 2009, whilst in your mid twenties, you were again convicted of a serious assault and sentenced to a further custodial sentence. Within only a few months of being released from this sentence and before your twenties were out you committed this most despicable and destructive act of murder.

In addition to violence, drug abuse has also been a feature of your life and has no doubt been associated with your violent conduct.

When you were released from your last prison sentence you had the support of a dedicated and caring group of individuals in the Centrestage group.

Instead of sticking with them and making the most of the opportunities they offered you chose to return to selfish and self indulgent drug abuse.

That is an important realisation because this was a matter of choice. You had the intelligence, family support and wider opportunity that some others do not. You simply made a lifestyle choice.

The fact that you went about your drug abuse with such recklessness as is demonstrated by the quantities and time period concerned provides nothing whatsoever by way of mitigation, indeed it might be thought to be something of an aggravation. It does not even provide anything by way of any form of meaningful explanation.

Since there are two sides to you I can accept that you are now remorseful. That can also be seen from your plea of guilty. However I am concerned with passing sentence for what you did in January during the course of your period of insatiable drug abuse. The note which you left at that time provides an eloquent account of your attitude to your conduct at that stage.

For the crime of murder there can only be a sentence of life imprisonment and that is what I will impose to date from 20 January 2011. I also require to select a period which must elapse before you are even entitled to apply for parole.

In selecting that period I take account of the utter ferocity of the attack perpetrated on a woman, I take account of the destructive effect of your conduct on the family of your victim and I take account of your very serious record of previous violent conduct.

In all of these circumstances the period which must pass before you may even apply for parole ought to 20 years. However I am obliged to restrict this to reflect the utilitarian value of your plea and I will do so by restricting that period to 17 years.

I must stress though that this is not the sentence. Given your record you may well never be released at all. That question will be for the parole board. The sentence of the Court is that you should be imprisoned for life”.