HMA v DARREN ALEXANDER JACKSON SMITH

At the High Court in Glasgow Judge Rae QC sentenced Darren Smith to detention for life with a punishment part of 19 years after he was found guilty of the murder of George Mathieson on the 10 November 2010 at Howieshill Road, Cambuslang, Glasgow.

On sentencing Judge Rae made the following statement in court:

“You have been convicted of the murder of a young man and an assault on his brother.  You have also been convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice by washing the weapon you used to carry out the attacks. 

In my view the evidence in this case indicates that you chose to arm yourself on 10 November last year and from your actions, as disclosed in the evidence from a number of witnesses, there is a clear inference that you went out looking for trouble that day.  Unusually in such cases, you appear to have been sober and not fuelled by alcohol.  So this must have been a deliberate decision on your part. You challenged the brothers, not just at the initial stages of this incident when you produced the knife, but even after they had chased you.  I accept that they were wrong to chase you but this was only after you shouted at them and you produced the knife.  I also accept that in the course of the incident they threw a stone or stones, which did not contact you, but even after that you continued to challenge them and, at the point at which you stabbed George Mathieson to the chest, fatally, and slashed his brother on the face, the brothers were unarmed and no real threat to you as you could have removed yourself at any time. Thereafter you chased them down the road eventually giving up. George Mathieson died shortly thereafter.

If you had not chosen to arm yourself with a knife, carry it in the middle of the day and start trouble with the brothers, a young man would not have lost his life

Your schedule of previous convictions is disturbing.  It reveals a man who habitually carries weapons and on occasion uses them for acts of violence.  This is your fifth conviction for the carrying or use of a knife and on this occasion it was with tragic and fatal consequences. 

You have ended a young man’s life, causing considerable misery and distress to his family and those close to him.  Despite this, you have, in my view, shown no remorse whatsoever for your actions.  Indeed, in the social enquiry report you have clearly minimised your involvement and, not satisfied with killing George Mathieson, you have attempted in that report, to blacken his character. The account you provided to the social worker is not supported by the evidence, in my view, and I note that you now claim you acted in self defence, which was not your position at trial and clearly the jury did not accept the stated position at trial, namely, that you were acting under provocation.

You must realise that, in respect of the murder charge, there is only one sentence which I can impose, although I require to fix a punishment part, that is, the minimum period of time that you require to serve in prison to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence, leaving aside the question of the risk which you pose to the public.

The effect of this will be that you will not be eligible for parole or release until the punishment part has expired.  Thereafter it will be for the Parole Board and the Parole Board alone to consider whether you still present a risk to the public, or, whether you can be released on a life licence with appropriate conditions.  If you are still considered a serious risk, after the punishment part has expired, you will not be released.  Unless you change your attitude to the carrying of weapons and violence you will continue to present a risk to the public.

I will have regard to your relative youth in fixing a punishment part but, having regard to the circumstances of this killing and your record of previous convictions, I have no option but to fix a significant and lengthy punishment part

On charge 2, the assault on Mark Mathieson, you will be sentenced to 4 years detention in a young offenders’ institution; on charge 3, the attempt to defeat the ends of justice, you will be sentenced to 1 year.  These periods will run concurrently with each other and concurrently with the punishment part that I am about to impose, all of which will all be backdated to 15 March 2011 when it is submitted that your latest sentence expired.

On charge 1 the murder of George Mathieson, you will be sentenced to be detained for life in a young offenders’ institution and in view of your serious record combined with the circumstances of this particular case the punishment part will be one of 19 years”.