HMA v MALCOLM JOHN WEBSTER

Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Bannatyne sentenced Malcolm Webster to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 30 years after he was found guilty of the murder of his wife Claire Morris in 1994.

On sentencing Lord Bannatyne made the following statement in court:

“You were convicted by a jury of all the charges you faced on this lengthy indictment. 

The most serious of these charges was that contained in charge 1, subparagraph 9, that being a charge relating to the murder of your then wife, Claire Jennifer Morris.  

The sentence which I impose on that charge is the one prescribed by law, namely:  life imprisonment.

I also have to impose a punishment part.  

The murder of your then wife was an appalling act and all right minded people will be utterly shocked by it.

The murder of your wife was premeditated.  It was carefully planned and put into effect over a period of time.   Over a number of months you administered drugs to her.  On the night of her death you again administered drugs to her thus rendering her unconscious.   You then drove her to a site you had already identified.  There you faked a car accident.  You then deliberately set the vehicle on fire while knowing that your wife was unconscious within the vehicle and wholly unable to save herself.

This was a murder which could properly be described as cold blooded, brutal and callous.  This murder was the central part of a plan to obtain for yourself by fraud money from various bodies.  Your motive for this murder was thus the utterly base one of financial gain.

This was a murder of a wholly exceptional kind and of a type rarely seen in these courts.  It is a crime for which you have shown no remorse and I am unable to identify any factors which mitigate at all this dreadful crime.

When imposing a punishment part the court is directed to have regard to the other offences on the indictment apart from the murder of which the accused has been convicted.   You were convicted of a number of other crimes on this indictment.  I would intend only to refer to the two most serious of these, namely:  the two further convictions for the attempted murder of Ms Drumm.  

Charge 3(2) again involves the administering of drugs to your victim over a period of time.  Once more this was a cold blooded crime.   In addition it involved the endangerment of Ms Drumm’s unborn child.

Charge 3(14) is a further staged road accident involving an attempt to murder Ms Drumm.

Once more these were the central planks in a carefully laid plan made by and put into effect by you in order to financially gain from the death of your then wife.

Having regard to the circumstances of the murder, the nature and circumstances of all the other charges of which you were convicted on the indictment and the whole other facts and circumstances before me I impose a punishment part of 30 years backdated to 12 May 2011.

I now turn to the other charges on the indictment.

I begin by saying that these sentences are all imposed concurrent to the life sentence and punishment part I have already imposed.

First, charge 1.  In relation to subparagraphs 12 to 19 of charge 1 I impose a cumulo sentence of 8 years imprisonment.

In relation to sentencing on charge 1 as a whole upon which the jury returned a verdict, given that I have already imposed a life sentence in relation to charge 1(9) being the murder charge contained within charge 1, it is not appropriate to impose a further sentence in relation to charge 1 as a whole.

In relation to charge 2 you will go to prison for 1 year.

Turning to charge 3, subparagraphs 2;  4 to 6;  11;  13; and 14 I impose a cumulo sentence of 12 years.  That is the sentence which I impose in relation to charge 3 as a whole.

In relation to charge 4 you will go to prison for 6 months.

In relation to charge 5 you will go to prison for 18 months.

As regards charges 6 and 7 these were in my view both very nasty offences.

In terms of charge 6 you in all real senses took the entire savings of Ms Drumm and left her destitute.

As regards charge 7 your behaviour though in no way as serious as in relation to the earlier charges involving Claire Webster and Ms Drumm must have been very distressing to Ms Banarjee.  Accordingly on charge 6 you will go to prison for 4 years and on charge 7 you will go to prison for 3 years.

The determinate sentences which I have passed in relation to the specific subheads in charge 1;  charge 2;  charge 3;  charges 4 to 7 will run consecutive to each other, although as I said earlier all of these sentences will run concurrently to the life sentence and punishment part imposed upon the murder charge.

Lastly when imposing the punishment part I am directed not to take into account the period of imprisonment necessary for the protection of the public and I have not done so.

However, I have formed the clear view on the basis of the evidence led and such reports as are before me that you are a considerable danger to women and I would intend to so advise the appropriate authorities”.


 

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