SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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.

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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 Lorna Middleton

 

Nov 17, 2021

At the High Court in Glasgow today Lord Clark sentenced Lorna Middleton to life imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of murdering her husband.

 

Lord Clark set the punishment part at 18 years. This is the period of time which the offender must serve in custody before she can be even considered for parole.

On sentencing, Lord made the following statement from Court:

“Lorna Middleton, you have been found guilty of murdering your husband, Billy Middleton, on 26 June last year.

On the night of 25 June 2020, a number of people were in your flat. Lots of drink and drugs were consumed. You became involved in an incident with a young man, whom you were trying to hit. Witnesses gave evidence that you then accused your husband of not backing you up, and expressed anger towards him.

Later, all of the other people left the house and you were then alone with your husband, in the early hours of the morning.

You stabbed your husband in the upper back with a large knife. Almost the whole length of the blade went into his body, through his lung and into his heart, and severed a major blood vessel. He died shortly thereafter.

When the police attended at the door of the flat very soon after the stabbing, seeking to gain entry, you did not let them in, although it seems clear from the pathologist’s evidence that they would not have been able to save Billy.

You gave detailed evidence about what happened when the other people were in your flat and also about Billy allegedly assaulting you when you were alone together. Despite that detailed recollection, your evidence was that you had no memory of committing the devastating murderous knife attack on him shortly thereafter.  

In finding you guilty of murder, the jury rejected the suggestions that you acted in self-defence or under provocation.

The information before me confirms the profound impact that the death of Billy Middleton has had upon his brother. The family and friends of Billy Middleton have lost a much loved man. They are left to deal with that loss for the rest of their lives. Nothing I can say or do can reduce that impact.

I have listened to what has been said on your behalf this morning and I have taken it into account. I have also had regard to the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work report now available to me, including what it says about your personal circumstances and background.

According to that report, you have now accepted responsibility for the death of your husband and have expressed shame and remorse for your actions.

I also take into account that your previous convictions include one for assault to severe injury and another for threatening and abusive behaviour in a domestic context.

The sentence for murder is fixed by law. It is life imprisonment.

I am obliged to fix a period of time which you must serve in custody before you can be considered for parole. This period of time, known as the punishment part, is to satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence.

I therefore sentence you to life imprisonment. Having regard to the whole circumstances, the punishment part will be 18 years.

The fact that the attack on your husband was a form of domestic abuse is an aggravating factor. If this murder had not involved domestic abuse, the punishment part would have been 17 years.

This does not mean that your sentence is one of 18 years. You are sentenced to life imprisonment and after the punishment part is served it will then be for the Parole Board to determine when you will ultimately be released and they will have regard to the safety of the public in reaching that decision.

Your period of imprisonment is backdated to 29 June 2020 when you were remanded in custody.”

17 November 2021