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HMA v Garrie Lee McCann


May 5, 2021

At the High Court in Glasgow today Lord Weir imposed an extended sentence of 11 years and 4 months, comprising a custodial term of 8 years and 4 months and an extension period of 3 years, on Garrie Lee McCann after the offender pleaded guilty to culpable homicide.

On sentencing, Lord Weir made the following statement in court:

“You were originally charged on this indictment with the crime of murder.  You have since tendered, and the Crown has accepted, a plea of guilty to a charge of culpable homicide.  But you should be under no doubt that that charge is still a very serious one indeed, involving as it does the death of William Prieston following an attack in which you repeatedly punched him to the head and body.

I have considered very carefully all that has been said on your behalf.  I recognise that acceptance of your plea carries with it a recognition that the late Mr Prieston suffered from medical complications which meant that he was unable to survive what the Crown now accepts was not a murderous attack.  I have also considered carefully the terms of the detailed and insightful criminal justice social work report, which describes at length the disruption and difficulties associated with your own upbringing and the medical and mental health challenges you have faced from an early age.  Mr Ross properly invites me to take account of those challenges, as well as your attitude to this offence, the timing of the plea, and the remorse which you have shown for the consequences of your actions.

However, I am also bound to take account of the circumstances of this offence, as they have been narrated to me, and other aspects of your background evidenced by your record of previous convictions.  Aspects of what you told the social worker sit uneasily with the terms of the agreed narrative.  Whatever ultimately brought it about, however, the fact remains that there was no justification for subjecting the late Mr Prieston to such an assault, never mind the level of violence which you did.  In that respect, and notwithstanding the absence of any fractures to the face or skull, it is clear that you did visit considerable violence upon him.  The agreed narrative refers to his partner observing you delivering several punches to the face and body, the facial punches being delivered with your full bodyweight, and pinning Mr Prieston’s arms and legs such that he was rendered defenceless.  The scientific findings following forensic analysis of your T-shirt and jeans were consistent with you having repeatedly punched Mr Prieston whilst he was bleeding.  Your attack upon him required Mr Prieston’s admission to hospital, from which he never emerged alive.

Moreover, your record of previous convictions does you no credit.  These include a solemn conviction for assault to severe injury in 2013 which resulted in a 29 month sentence of imprisonment and Supervised Release Order, which you subsequently breached, resulting in your return to prison.

The terms of the Impact Statement of Mr Prieston’s partner of nine years records the profound impact of his death upon her.  No sentence of this court can truly alleviate the pain she continues to bear from that loss, as well the pain of his wider family.   

The social worker’s assessment places you at significant risk of reoffending. The commission of the present offence demonstrates your capacity to cause harm by the use of violence. I conclude from the overall assessment in the criminal justice social work report that you do present a risk of serious harm to the public. I also conclude that a high level of supervision in the community is consonant with the need to facilitate your rehabilitation and reintegration into society. For these reasons what I propose to do is this. 

In respect of charge 1, being the only charge remaining on the indictment, I will pass an extended sentence of 11 years and 4 months, which will be in 2 parts.  The first part is an immediate period in custody which will be one of 8 years and 4 months’ imprisonment.  I have reduced that from a headline sentence of 10 years to reflect your plea of guilty in advance of the trial diet. That sentence will be backdated to 18 November 2019, on which date you were remanded in custody.

But this immediate period in custody is not the end of your sentence.

The second part of your sentence will be served in the community. From the date of your release, you will be under licence for an extension period of 3 years.  The conditions of your licence will be fixed by the Scottish Ministers. If during this extension period you fail to comply with the conditions of your licence, it may be revoked and you may be returned to custody for a further period in respect of this case. The court also has power to deal with you if you commit another offence after your release and while you are on licence.

That is all.”