HMA v JAMES CHRYNES GILFILLAN

At the High Court in Glasgow Judge Rae sentenced James Gilfillan to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 18 years after he was found guilty of the murder of Scott Margery in Stevenston on 18th July 2010.

On sentencing Judge Rae made the following statement in court: 

“This is yet another case of a young man carrying a knife in the public streets and when under the influence of drink and drugs using that weapon, along with a baseball bat, to kill another defenceless young man who was offering no aggression or antagonism to you at the time.  An aggravating feature of the charge is contained in the evidence that some days prior to the killing you had declared an intention to do harm to the deceased because of a small drug debt of £10 owed by the deceased’s girlfriend to you.  So there was, in my view, clearly an element of premedittion in this crime. On the fatal night you saw the deceased, followed him into a close, stabbed him twice and assaulted him in other ways all as described in the charge, including using the baseball bat which you were carrying.  After the attack you made various statements admitting the killing.  Some of statements could be interpreted as boasting about what you had done. 

Your schedule of previous convictions does you no credit.  Although only 23 you have convictions for violence, robbery and the carrying and use of weapons.  Subsequent to the killing you were sentenced to a period of 2 years and 7 months for a serious assault and I understand that the sentence end date for that latest conviction was 23 December 2011. 

Your position at trial was that you were suffering from a mental illness and that your responsibility was diminished as a result.  The jury unanimously rejected that defence and you were convicted of murder. 

You must realise that, in respect of the murder charge, there is only one sentence which I can impose, although I require to fix a punishment part, that is, the minimum period of time that you  would require to serve in prison to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence. 

The effect of this will be that you will not be eligible for parole or release until the punishment part has expired.  Thereafter it will be for the Parole Board and the Parole Board alone to consider whether you still present a risk to the public, or, whether you can be released on a life licence with appropriate conditions.  If you are still considered a serious risk, after the punishment part has expired, you will not be released.  

I will have regard to your personal circumstances in fixing a punishment part but, having regard to the circumstances of this killing and your record of previous convictions, I have no option but to fix a significant and lengthy punishment part. 

Your case is complicated by the fact that you are now suffering from a serious mental illness and while serving the sentence in respect of your latest conviction, you were transferred from prison to the state hospital at Carstairs where you were and continue to be treated for a mental illness.  The mental illness from which you are now suffering is a mental disorder within the terms of section 328(1) of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.  That illness has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia which is said to be treatment resistant.  As a result, I am now invited to make a hospital direction, in addition to the sentence of imprisonment that I must impose, all in terms of section 59A of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, and the effect of which would be that you would be transferred to a psychiatric hospital.  I should make clear however that the effect of this hospital direction, which I am satisfied on the information before me that I should make, will not alter the position that you will not be eligible for release from this sentence until the punishment part has expired and thereafter it will be for the Parole Board to determine whether you do or do not continue to present a serious risk to the public. 

On the evidence before me I am satisfied that the hospital direction should authorise your detention in the state hospital at Carstairs as the evidence discloses that you require to be detained in a state hospital under conditions of special security, and such conditions of special security can be provided only in the state hospital.  That hospital direction will come under regular and periodic review. 

You will be sentenced to imprisonment for life on the murder charge. 

In relation to the fixing of a punishment part I am invited by your counsel to have regard to what he submitted was the unanimous view of the psychiatrists that you were suffering from a mental illness at the time of the killing and he referred, in particular, to the evidence of Dr Baird who gave evidence for the defence.  I have reviewed the evidence at the trial and I note that Dr Pereira Scott who saw you in December 2010 came to the view that you did not present with evidence of mental illness at that time, nor did she note any evidence that you were mentally ill at the time of the offence in July 2010.  Dr Doig reviewed your case in June 2012 and after being furnished with further information came to the view that voluntary intoxication and longstanding problems of controlling anger, unrelated to mental illness, were more likely to have resulted in your violent behaviour in July 2010.  Clearly, the psychiatrists were not all of the same view.  There was a concession however that you may have been in the prodromal stages of your mental illness, albeit not exhibiting signs of mental illness. These were issues before the jury.  As I have said, they rejected the defence of diminished responsibility. They must have rejected therefore the opinions of Dr Baird and Professor Thomson. 

On the other hand I must have regard to your personal circumstances now, which include a diagnosis of mental illness and I shall have regard to the fact that that you may have been in the prodromal stage of mental illness in July 2010 but in view of your record, combined with the circumstances of this particular case, the punishment part will be one of 18 years. I shall backdate that sentence to 24 December 2011 which was the day after the sentence end date for your latest sentence.  I will also make a hospital direction in terms of section 59A of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 that you be transferred to the state hospital at Carstairs.”