HMA v RICHARD GREEN

At the High Court in Glasgow Judge O'Grady sentence Richard Green to 3 years in prison after he pled guilty to the culpable homicide of his son John Paul Mulligan Green on 7 January 2012.

On sentencing Judge O'Grady made the following statement in court:

“I have already observed-and it bears repetition- that this is a most difficult and anxious case. The word “tragic” is used so often in these courts that it has become commonplace, but it’s a description which it is impossible to escape in this instance. For a man to take the life of his son is mercifully rare, but when it does occur it has aspects to it which truly are in the realms of tragedy.

In approaching disposal of this case I have to have regard-as I always do- to many elements, some of which are conflicting and not easy to reconcile.

There are, of course, factors in your favour.

Although you have a not insignificant criminal record, it is old, is for dishonestly, and so not analogous.

It is said- and no-one disputes it- that your son was a troubled young man, some of his troubles not being of his own making. He appears to have been plagued by drink and drugs and to have behaved badly over the years and indeed been violent towards you on more than one occasion in your own home.

Then of course there are the events of that day which immediately preceded his death. By your own largely unchallenged account there took place over a period of hours an argument which became intense and then physical. And that physical encounter led to him attacking you to your injury. I accept, as I am bound to, that there was very considerable provocation both verbal and physical.

There is also the question of your own condition. I am told that you have suffered significant health problems over the years. I am told that these continue and I am advised that as a result your prognosis is not good.

And finally-but not least- there is the fact of your remorse. Many in these courts express remorse and in fact have none. Many express remorse which I suspect fades rather swiftly. But in your case not only am I satisfied that your remorse is real but I am certain it is profoundly felt and will never abate.

All these matters weigh heavily in your favour and I am bound to take them into account.

Equally however, I am bound to take account of what inescapably weighs against you.

By your plea of guilty you have accepted that on any view what was done by you was not done in self-defence. It is clear that many other options were open to you to deal with even this most difficult situation.

By your plea that you acted under provocation you have accepted that what you did was done when you had lost your self-restraint and was done in anger. You in effect over-reacted in a catastrophic fashion.

While the crime of culpable homicide covers a wide range of culpability, I do not take the view that your case-even with all its components-falls to be considered as culpable homicide at its least serious.

And finally, of course, culpable homicide has at its root the most final and dramatic fate one person can inflict on another.Sentencing has many purposes. Not all are present in every case and not all of equal weight in every case. Not all are present in yours.

The court always has to have in mind the protection of the public. In your case there is no particular reason to suppose that you represent a significant future risk.

The court has to have in mind deterrence. It may wish to deter the accused from future offending. Again in your case that does not appear to be a major consideration.

The court may wish to deter others who would consider behaving in the same way and although that thought can never be entirely discounted it may be of limited relevance here.

But in any disposal in these courts there are considerations beyond the purely practical. The court in bound to consider punishment where there is clear responsibility. It is bound to consider retribution where there has been great harm done. And it is bound to mark the worth we place on any human life and the gravity of the act of taking it.

I have therefore concluded that a custodial sentence is appropriate, even in the unusual circumstances which have been set out before me. Had it not been for the factors of which I have spoken, that sentence would be significantly lengthier.

But having regard to the circumstances of the offence, the background to it, your own personal circumstances, your state of health and the tragedy which this represents for you and your family I feel able to limit that sentence to one of three years. This will be backdated to 9th January, the date of your remand in custody.”