A judge may decide to publish a statement after passing sentence on an offender in cases where there is particular public interest; where a case has legal significance; or where providing the reasons for the decision might assist public understanding.
Please note that statements may include graphic details of offences when it is necessary to fully explain the reasons behind a sentencing decision.
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The independence of the judiciary is essential to safeguard people’s rights under law - enabling judges to make decisions impartially based solely on evidence and law, without interference or influence from the government or politicians.
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.
Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA v Darren Lethorn
Nov 24, 2020
On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:
“You were found guilty after trial of two charges of attempted murder.
That simple statement, however, may give a misleading impression. The two offences consisted of a single act, namely the firing of one shot, albeit the jury found that you repeatedly attempted to discharge a firearm at the complainer in charge 1, having attempted to drive a motor car at him, before you succeeded in discharging a bullet at him.
That bullet missed him and then passed through a window of a room in a nearby building, narrowly missing the second complainer. While there is no reason to think that you were even aware of his presence, that illustrates clearly the dangers of firing a gun in a built up area. The effect on that complainer has been significant, as is demonstrated in his impact statement.
I have read, and take account of, the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work report. I appreciate that you told the author that you maintain your innocence but I must proceed to sentence you in the light of the verdict and the evidence given at trial, not an explanation you now choose to offer. The report suggests that the offences were connected to serious crime. I have no idea if that is meant to indicate the statutory aggravation, which was not libelled, or whether it is used in a non-technical sense. There was, however, no evidence to justify that comment beyond the serious nature of the offences themselves. The evidence suggested that they were the result of some sort of argument or fall-out and I place no weight on the suggestion in the report. The record of your conviction will not contain that aggravation.
I have, though, taken account of the circumstances of the offences, what has been said by your Counsel on your behalf and your record of previous offences
The use of firearms is something which cannot be tolerated. In the circumstances, punishment and deterrence and the protection of the public are the sentencing aims to which I must have regard.
Given the nature of these offences, your record and the contents of the report, I am not satisfied that the conditions of an ordinary licence would be sufficient to protect the public from you on your release. I therefore propose to pass a sentence which will consist of two parts, a custodial element and an extension period, during which you will be subject to conditions set by the Scottish Ministers. Breach of these conditions could see you returned to prison to serve the full term of the sentence.
The total period of the sentence, which will run from 1 July 2019, is 14 years, consisting of a custodial element of 11 years and an extension period of 3 years.”