HMA V DEAN RIPPON

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lady Smith sentenced Dean Rippon to detention for life after he pled guilty to the murder of Christopher Swailes. The punishment part was set at 19 years.

On sentencing Lady Smith made the following statement in court:

"Christopher Swailes was a much loved father and son. He was part of a close family who greatly valued the part he played in their lives. He had, in the 43 years before his untimely death , contributed much in his working life and much to the support and wellbeing of his family. He had his difficulties following the tragic death of his wife but the continuing love and support given to him by his parents was plainly demonstrative of his worth  as a human being.

That was all brought to an abrupt end when, on 13 November 2011 you mounted an attack on him. That attack was so awful that it is difficult to find words which accurately describe what you did. ‘Vicious’ , ‘brutal’ and ‘wicked’ seem inadequate when account is taken of what you did to him with a long bladed sharp knife – thought to be a filleting knife - and, according to what you told the social worker who prepared a report for this court, a whisky bottle. Fourteen stab or laceration wounds are recorded in the agreed narrative but, moreover, you mutilated a significant section of the left side of his forehead to such an extent that the skull was grossly disrupted and brain tissue was exuding. The photographs of what you did to this poor man are deeply distressing.

Knife crime is  a scourge in the Scottish community as is the use of bottles in attacks on other people. The sentences imposed by the courts when such weapons are used must reflect its desire to discourage their use and save the tragic and needless loss of life that all too often occurs.

Previous convictions show that whilst you have not been in the habit of committing offences of violence, you have an offending history that dates back to 2009 – when you started appearing in the adult courts – mainly for public disorder offences and usually involving the excessive consumption of alcohol, as was the case on this occasion.

The only sentence I can pass is one of life imprisonment but in doing so I must fix the punishment part, which is the period of time which must elapse before you are entitled to have your case put before the Parole Board to consider whether or not you should be released on licence. I stress that the punishment part is no more than a minimum; it does not mean that you will be released on licence when it expires , or ever. That will be a matter for others to decide.

In deciding on the punishment part in your case, I have taken account of the circumstances of the offence, the fact that you were on bail and your previous record, as well as the matters advanced in mitigation. I recognise that you have had difficulties in your own life and that you have expressed recognition of the horror of what you have done but this remains the most serious of offences .

In the circumstances, had it not been for your plea of guilty, the punishment part that I would have imposed would have been 21 years. In the light of your plea, which was tendered at a continued preliminary hearing, I will restrict that period to one of 19 years. It will be backdated to 16 November 2011."