Statement following acquittal of the accused in HMA v Graeme McNaught

At Hamilton Sheriff Court on 1 May 2015, Sheriff Marie Smart decided to make no order against Graeme McNaught, who was acquitted of stalking Janice Galloway on the ground of insanity.

Disposing of the case, Sheriff Smart made the following statement in court: 

“Graeme McNaught, following a trial in this court a jury found you not guilty of breaching a special condition of bail not to contact Janice Galloway by sending an electronic communication to her email account. On a separate charge of stalking Janice Galloway the jury acquitted you on the ground of insanity at the time. 

The jury made a discerning deletion to the charge of stalking and removed the reference to you emailing Janice Galloway’s agent with the intention that the email should be forwarded to Ms Galloway. The evidence in relation to that allegation was clear. While you admitted contacting Ms Galloway’s agent by email you emphasised to her agent that the email was to be treated as confidential and, in particular, that its contents should not be forwarded to Ms Galloway. The email was produced in the trial and contains your explicit instructions that your email should not be sent to Ms Galloway. Your reason for contacting Ms Galloway’s agent was due to your belief that a book published by Ms Galloway, although described as a work of fiction, drew on an incident in your own life.  The court heard evidence from Ms Galloway that it was she who instructed her agent to forward your email to her. 

In the course of the trial the Crown deleted a reference to you repeatedly attending at Ms Galloway’s solicitor’s office and asking for messages to be passed to her. The Crown amended that part of the charge to an allegation that you sent a letter to Ms Galloway’s solicitor requesting Ms Galloway be advised of it. The evidence was that you wrote one letter to her solicitor enclosing a sealed letter addressed to Ms Galloway. You told the solicitor that you thought it would be unwise for you to post the letter direct to Ms Galloway’s home address. You asked the solicitor to let Ms Galloway know when the letter arrived at the office. You expressed the view to the solicitor that Ms Galloway might be interested to read your letter or she may decide she would rather not. The evidence was that Ms Galloway’s solicitor informed her she had received a letter from you and, on Ms Galloway’s instructions, your sealed letter was forwarded to Ms Galloway’s home address. 

The jury was otherwise satisfied that you had gone to Ms Galloway’s home address and delivered a letter. The letter was posted through the letterbox and thereafter you left in a taxi. The jury was also satisfied that you instructed a parcel be delivered to Ms Galloway’s home address. You arranged for a taxi driver to collect a parcel containing a book belonging to Ms Galloway which you had found in your house. The book contained an inscription which Ms Galloway had written and you wanted to return it to her. The jury was also satisfied that you repeatedly sent emails to Ms Galloway’s husband. He said in his evidence that when he searched his junk email account he found emails from you. 

The jury was satisfied that when you committed these acts you were not criminally responsible for them due to suffering from severe mental illness at the time. The evidence before the court was that you have suffered for many years from a severe mental disorder. Your first involvement with mental health services was in 1997. Indeed, the court heard evidence that it was due to Ms Galloway’s intervention that your mental illness was eventually diagnosed. She assisted by writing to mental health professionals, as well as your family, highlighting your symptoms in an effort to get the help you required. Your brother confirmed it was Ms Galloway who alerted your family to your illness. He remains grateful to her for informing your family of your health difficulties and ensuring you received treatment. As a result of Ms Galloway’s involvement your illness was diagnosed and you were detained in hospital in 1998 for four weeks to receive appropriate treatment. 

The court heard that the mental illness from which you suffer is cyclical. During an episode of your illness you lack insight into your behaviour and do not appreciate that your behaviour is deviating from normal behaviour. There was evidence that stress can precipitate an episode. 

You previously faced trial in September 2014 on a number of charges of stalking Ms Galloway. In the course of that trial there was a significant deterioration in your mental health. You were aware beforehand of the danger that the stress of that trial might affect your mental health. The court heard evidence from your brother that before the trial started you told him that you realised the next few weeks were going to be particularly stressful. You asked your brother and your sister-in-law to look out for any signs of deterioration in your mental health. In the event that trial had to be brought to a premature halt. 

The doctors agreed that your symptoms in September 2014 were consistent with a manic episode of your illness. As you appeared to be responding to treatment it was decided to manage you in the community. However, unknown to those in charge of your care, you had stopped taking your medication and were making considerable errors of judgement, particularly in your personal and work life. You made an impulsive decision to resign from your post at the Royal Conservatoire, you were using social media in a reckless manner and you gave an interview to the press, which you would otherwise consider unwise and untrue. You have limited recollection of these events. 

In particular, the court heard evidence that on 7 October 2014 you resigned from your position as a lecturer in the piano department of the Royal Conservatoire, formerly the RSAMD, after holding that post for 24 years. Your brother told the court he became concerned when you posted a message on Facebook on 7 October 2014 saying you were resigning from your post. He was aware you loved your role at the Royal Conservatoire. Your brother immediately contacted you to ask why you were resigning your post. You told him you wanted to apply for the post of Head of Strings at the Conservatoire. When your brother pointed out you that you did not even play a string instrument you replied that pianos had strings. Your brother told the court that you tried to withdraw your resignation later that same day but your resignation had been accepted.

No action more clearly highlights the extreme decline in your mental health than your decision to resign your post. It is obvious you were in no fit state to make any rational decision at the time far less one so momentous. The loss of your post clearly has had a detrimental impact on you, obvious in the signs of distress you showed in court when your decision to resign was mentioned. In her evidence your psychiatrist acknowledged that had she been aware of your decision to resign your post, and your failure to take your medication, she would have arranged to have had you compulsory detained in hospital for treatment. 

The deterioration in your mental health continued. When you were detained on 24 October 2014 on the present charges a police officer described your behaviour as delusional. Due to concerns about your mental health a police surgeon was asked to examine you. The police surgeon described you as delusional and hypomanic. 

Following your arrest on the present charges you were detained in HMP Addiewell until your admission to Stobhill Hospital on 7 November 2014 to assess and thereafter treat your illness. Since your detention in Stobhill Hospital the psychiatrist in charge of your care has confirmed that there has been a gradual improvement in your thinking, reasoning and behaviour and that you are responding to appropriate medication. When you were examined by a psychiatrist in February 2015 to ensure that you were fit to stand trial on the present charges you were no longer experiencing unusual thoughts or beliefs and your behaviour appeared appropriate.  

She described you as pleasant, polite and considerate, and appropriately attired, in contrast to her last meeting with you, when you were dressed in a flamboyant manner. Your brother confirmed that when you are suffering an episode of mental illness you behave in an opposite manner to how you usually behave which is reticent and quiet. His description of your normal behaviour corresponded with the impression you gave in court of a modest and quiet man. You expressed remorse that any of your behaviour should have distressed Ms Galloway and felt ashamed if you had done so while suffering from an episode of your illness. 

Following the verdict of the jury, I called for reports to ascertain if it is necessary for the court to make any order. I now have two reports prepared by the two psychiatrists responsible for your care. The reports mention that your family, especially your brother, are keen to become closely involved in a supportive role when you leave hospital. While you said you found the court proceedings ‘harrowing’ the reports conclude that you have coped well. A particular area of concern for you is the impact your inability to engage in piano practice has had. You admit you have never in your career gone a single day without practice and you are naturally concerned that you may never make up the lost ground. It is to be hoped that is not the case. By all accounts you have had a distinguished career as a concert pianist. 

The reports highlight that you are cooperating with treatment and maintaining improvement since the last reports were provided on your mental state. There is presently no evidence of symptoms of mental disorder. Your mental state is stable and you have been reliably taking your medication. Your behaviour is appropriate. You have insight, are compliant and keen to engage with follow up services in the community to prevent a recurrence. Your condition is in remission following successful treatment. One report points out that had you not been involved in court proceedings it is likely you would have been discharged from hospital in January. The test which is required before I can make an order is not met. I am satisfied that it is appropriate to follow the recommendations of the authors of the reports and accordingly make no order in terms of section 57 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.”