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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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HMA v Gerard McGinlay


Oct 6, 2021

At the High Court at Glasgow, Lord Matthews sentenced Gerard McGinlay to life imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of murder.

The punishment part was set at 17 years. This is the period that must pass before the offender can apply for parole to be considered.

On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in Court:

“You were found guilty after trial of the senseless murder of Peter McElroy.

The evidence showed that he was involved in an argument with your former co-accused but, for reasons best known to yourself, you armed yourself with a knife, left the flat you were in, and, for no reason, stabbed him to the heart, causing his death.

Your evidence that he produced a knife and that the blow you struck was effectively an accident while you were defending yourself was rejected by the jury.

No sentence I can pass can make up for the loss sustained by Mr McElroy’s family and friends and it will be a long time before they will be able to come to terms with what happened, if ever.

Nonetheless, pass sentence I must and as you know that sentence must be imprisonment for life.

That is not the end of the matter, since I have to fix a period, known as the punishment part of the sentence, which must elapse before you can apply for parole. After that the question of your release will be for others to determine but even if you are released you will be subject to recall if you break the conditions of your licence. I hope that you will continue to engage with prison staff and address your issues, particularly with drugs. If you do that, it may be that you will still have the opportunity to live a meaningful life

In fixing this period, I take account of the circumstances of the offence, a stabbing in the street, the contents of the report, everything said on your behalf and your record of previous convictions.

The sentence will run from 14 April 2020 and will be imprisonment for life. I fix the punishment part at 17 years.”

6 October 2021