HMA v CONNOR JAMIE MURDOCH WARD

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Uist sentenced Connor Ward to three years detention and imposed a supervised release order after he pled guilty to making threats and possessing an explosive substance. The offences took place between December 2010 and May 2012 in Banff.

On sentencing Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“You pleaded guilty to making threatening statements to your mother and a female friend that you had made a bomb which you intended to use to kill your father and to possessing an explosive substance under such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that you did not have it in your possession or under your control for a lawful object. The explosive substance consisted of the chemical and other ingredients required for the making of a bomb. A major police operation had to be mounted and an exclusion zone created around your house when a bomb disposal squad attended there to carry out a search after your mother had reported the existence of suspicious items in your house. It is clear that you harbour a deep hatred for your father as you told the police that it was your intention to kill him, and also yourself, by means of a bomb.  

You are now 20 years of age. You performed reasonably well at school but have not held employment since leaving it. You have no previous convictions. You suffer from a mental disorder in the form of personality disorders and have received treatment as an inpatient on several occasions at the Royal Cornhill Hospital in Aberdeen. Nevertheless, you have been assessed as sane at the time you committed these crimes and as being sane and fit to plead. In order to enable me to consider the appropriate sentence in your case I have received a great deal of information in the form of a social work report, three psychiatric reports and a psychological assessment report. I have considered all the information provided to me in these very full and detailed reports, as well as all that was said on your behalf in mitigation. Having done so, I have concluded that a custodial sentence is required because of the gravity of the explosive substance charge and the potential effect on the safety of the public. It is only because of your youth and absence of criminal history that the sentence which I am about to impose on that charge is not longer than it is.

I intend to sentence you to a period of detention for the offences to which you pleaded guilty. In addition to the sentences which I am about to impose, and having considered the reports in this case, I consider it necessary to protect the public from serious harm from you on your release from custody. Accordingly, I intend to impose a supervised release order on you. Had you been convicted by a jury after trial I would have imposed a sentence of six months detention on charge 1, the charge of threatening behaviour, and 4 years detention on charge 4, the explosive substance charge. As you pleaded guilty at a preliminary hearing, those sentences will be discounted to 4 months detention and 3 years detention respectively and will run concurrently from 21 May 2012.  

(A supervised release order for a period of 12 months was also made in terms of the standard requirements and the additional requirements that the accused (i) undergoes such psychiatric treatment as may be prescribed; and (ii) does not approach or contact, or attempt to approach or contact, his father.)”.

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