HMA v PAUL HARRIGAN & others

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Tyre sentenced Paul Harrigan, Russell McCulley, Jillian McFadyen and Janelle McCulley in connection with the culpable homicide of Raymond Crighton.

On sentencing Lord Tyre made the following statement in court:

“Paul Harrigan and Russell McCulley,

You have pled guilty to the culpable homicide of Raymond Crichton.  The killing of Mr Crichton appears to have occurred as a consequence of an argument about the supply of heroin.  The severity of the violence which you used seems to have arisen from your suspicion that Mr Crichton was trying to rip you off by keeping the money which you had paid him earlier without supplying you with the drugs which you were wanting to buy.  Your reaction was apparently intended to demonstrate that you were not to be messed about in this way.  The result was an attack in which your victim was repeatedly punched and knocked to the ground as well as being punched and kicked while he was lying on the ground.  By then, however, he was already unconscious, having sustained a fatal injury to his head as he fell.

You each have a long list of previous convictions, including sentences of imprisonment for lengthy periods for analogous offences of violence.  It is clear to me from the circumstances of this offence, from your past records and from the information with which I have been provided in the social work reports that you are both dangerous individuals who will readily resort to violence.  You have both been assessed as presenting a high risk of re-offending and of causing serious harm.  That risk is only exacerbated by your continuing misuse of drugs.  In sentencing you, I have to do what I can to protect the public from harm when you come to be released from custody in the future.

I can see no basis in the circumstances of this offence, or in your past records, or in the social work reports for discriminating between you when fixing your sentences.  In your favour, I take account of the fact that the victim, Mr Crichton, appears to have died not as a consequence of a direct blow by either of you but by striking the floor with his head, although I consider that the weight which I should attach to this aspect is restricted by the fact that his fall was caused by you both punching him and knocking him to the ground.  I also take account of your guilty plea.

Because you have both been assessed as presenting a high risk of re-offending, I will impose an extended sentence on each of you which falls into two parts.  The first part is called the custodial term and it sets the period which you should spend in prison.  Had you not pled guilty when you did, I would have set the custodial part for each of you at a period of eight years.  As it is, I shall set the custodial part for each of you at a period of six years.  The second part of the extended sentence is called the extension period, during which you will be released on licence on conditions fixed by the Scottish Ministers.  These conditions may, for example, include measures to attempt to address your misuse of drugs and your tendency to deal with situations by means of violence.  Should you breach those conditions or commit another offence, you may be returned to custody in respect of the current matter.  This would be over and above any punishment for a new offence.  I fix the extension period at four years.

The result is that the total extended sentence imposed on you, Paul Harrigan, and on you, Russell McCulley, is ten years including, as I have said, a custodial term of six years.  The sentence in each case is backdated to 23 February 2011 when you were each remanded in custody.

Jillian McFadyen

You have pled guilty, along with Janelle McCulley, to a less serious but still extremely violent assault on Pauline Wright, who appears to have done no more than be at the wrong place at the wrong time when the four of you arrived in the flat occupied by Mr Crichton and Miss Wright.  The assault consisted of grabbing Miss Wright by the hair, forcing her to the ground, demanding drugs from her, kicking and punching her repeatedly and knocking her down again when she tried to get up.  It is fortunate for you that the injuries which Miss Wright sustained appear to have been fairly superficial.

I have given much thought to the appropriate sentence in your case.  You have a long and unhappy record of offending, including many offences of violence.  It has been pointed out by Mr Mitchell on your behalf that most of these were committed more than six years ago, but I have to note that you are currently awaiting sentence in the sheriff court for charges which include the assault of a police officer.  In these circumstances I have considered whether to impose a non-custodial sentence in your case.  In the end, after much thought, I have decided that this option must be rejected.  You have a very bad record of non-compliance with the conditions of previous non-custodial sentences.  Your whole past record demonstrates an unwillingness to comply with any requirements imposed upon you by official agencies.  Despite what has been said on your behalf, I find nothing in the Social Work Report to suggest that you would take a more responsible attitude if I were to impose a non-custodial sentence in the present case.  For these reasons, and having regard to the circumstances of the assault, I have concluded that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.

Had you not pled guilty when you did, I would have sentenced you to imprisonment for a period of twelve months.  As it is, I shall reduce that period and sentence you to imprisonment for a period of nine months, with effect from today.

Janelle McCulley

You have pled guilty to the same offence as Jillian McFadyen, and everything which I have said about the seriousness of that offence applies to you as it does to her.  It is deplorable that you now claim to have no recollection of the events that took place or of giving your statement to police.  Be that as it may, you have admitted participating in an unprovoked and serious assault and must be punished accordingly.

There are features which distinguish your situation from that of Jillian McFadyen.  Until recently, your record of previous convictions consisted of minor offences and included no offences of violence, although I am disappointed to note that you have recently been convicted of assault to injury and are awaiting sentence.  On the other hand, you committed this offence while on bail and I must take that into account when sentencing you.  I note also that you are six months pregnant.

I have given very careful consideration to making a community payback order as an alternative to custody.  In the end, I am not persuaded that you would comply with the requirements of any non-custodial disposal.  The Social Work Report has also identified practical difficulties in your case with an unpaid work requirement which I would have wished to impose by way of punishment.  I have concluded that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.

Had you not pled guilty when you did, I would have sentenced you to imprisonment for a period of eight months, including two months in respect of the bail offence.  As it is, I shall reduce that period and sentence you to imprisonment for a period of six months, with effect from today”.