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When deciding a sentence, a judge must deal with the offence that the offender has been convicted of, taking into account the unique circumstances of each particular case. The judge will carefully consider the facts that are presented to the Court by both the prosecution and by the defence.
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Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA V Janey Mains
Jul 6, 2020
On sentencing Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:
"You have pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Alistair MacFadyen, a 40 year old father, son, brother and nephew whose loss is incalculable so far as his family is concerned. I have read victim impact statements from his father and his aunt and no one could fail to be moved by them.
Nothing I can say or do can temper the grief felt by his family. It may be that no sentence will seem sufficient, particularly for his father. As he has said, no parent should ever have to bury their own child.
That is, however, something that you know all too well, having gone through the awful trauma of losing a son yourself. In the circumstances I have no doubt that the expressions of remorse and guilt you have clearly expressed at causing that pain to another family are genuine.
Sentences for the crime of culpable homicide can vary from the very lenient to the very severe, akin to those for murder. It depends principally on the nature of the offence and the circumstances of the offender.
In this case the nature of the offence is set out in the agreed narrative. You did not set out that night to harm Mr MacFadyen. The Crown accept that you were provoked into doing so, in the circumstances set out in the narrative, and the single stab wound you inflicted brought about Mr MacFadyen’s tragic death. However, as you know, provocation is only mitigation and does not completely excuse a criminal act.
Your personal circumstances are clearly reflected in the Criminal Justice Social Work report, which in turn refers to a psychiatric report prepared by Dr Isobel Campbell. You have been the victim of domestic violence from different partners for many years and your mental health has suffered. Your experiences are such that your resilience is likely to have been worn over the years. Your one conviction in 2015, effectively for breach of the peace, is of no consequence and I leave it out of account.
I have, of course, to pass a sentence which inflicts punishment on you for causing Mr MacFadyen’s death and in doing so I take account of the fact that this case resolved by way of a plea of guilty. A trial diet had been fixed at a preliminary hearing but that diet was discharged because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the next hearing, which would have been a continued preliminary hearing, was brought forward so that you could tender your plea. That means that a trial will no longer be required.
The sentence will run from 14 June 2019. I have decided that had the matter gone to trial it would have been one of imprisonment for 8 years but, given the timing of the plea, that will be reduced to imprisonment for 6 years and 8 months."
6 July 2020