HMA v CHRISTOPHER GRENFELL

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Burns sentenced Christopher Grenfell to life impisonment after he was found gulty of the murder of James Simpson on 29 November 2011. The punishment part was fixed at 17 years.

On sentencing Lord Burns made the following statement in court:

“You have been convicted of the murder of James Simpson a 76 year old man who tried to stop you stealing the Land Rover from outside his house. 

You deliberately used the car to inflict fatal and devastating injury to him with the sole object of making sure you took what was not yours to take. 

His wife witnessed these terrible events in front of their house.  She has had to relive these events in open court.  The trauma to her and her family caused by your actions cannot be calculated.  

Despite your assertions in the witness box, you must have known that you ran over him at least once with this heavy and powerful car and that you dragged his body under the car across the street. 

You fled the scene of this crime knowing that this elderly man must have been gravely injured at the least and abandoned the car and threw away the keys.  

I accept, as Mr Duguid, submitted that your original plan did not include harm to Mr Simpson but nevertheless your actions against him were deplorable and motivated by greed.  No doubt they were also done in panic since you cannot have expected Mr Simpson to put up such vigorous resistance to your plan.     

I have to sentence you to life imprisonment.

I also have to make an order under section 2 of the Prisoners and Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1993 relating to the punishment part of that sentence.  This is the part which satisfies the requirements for retribution and deterrence and takes account of the seriousness of the offence and the offences of theft of the keys and car and your previous convictions. 

It leaves out of account any period which may be necessary for the protection of the public.  That will in due course be a matter for the Parole Board. 

I see from your PCs that your criminal activities are persistent.  You have an appalling record of RT offences and have shown utter disregard for the orders of the court in continuing to drive while disqualified. 

Having regard to the circumstances of the offences and those convictions, 

I fix the punishment part at 17 years. 

On charge 1 a and b, I sentence you to 2 years imprisonment to run concurrently with the sentence on charge 2. 

I will backdate that sentence to 8th December 2011.  

In view of your criminal record and the fact that you have been convicted of dangerous driving on 2 occasions and careless driving on one occasion and have been disqualified from driving on many occasions and you drove the vehicle on this occasion while disqualified, it is plain that your are a menace on the roads.  I will order that you be disqualified from driving for life”.