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HMA v Raymond Bell


Jan 26, 2022

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Arthurson sentenced Raymond Bell to life imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of murder.

The punishment part of the sentence is 18 years.

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

“Raymond Bell, you have been convicted today by the unanimous verdict of the jury of the brutal and callous murder of David Black, who died at Kilbryde Hospice, East Kilbride, on 27 October 2019. You had, at your flat at 48A Lochaber Drive, Rutherglen, in the early hours of 2 November 2014, some five years prior to his death, assaulted Mr Black by repeatedly punching and kicking him on the head and body, repeatedly striking him on the body with a table leg, causing him to fall to the floor and thereafter repeatedly stamping and kicking him on the head whilst he was unconscious. You proceeded to leave the flat, having inflicted catastrophic head injuries upon Mr Black, abandoning him there until he was found unconscious on the kitchen floor by Council officers at around 3pm on 5 November 2014. You had failed to seek any medical attention for your victim, and instead fled to Blackpool on 6 November 2014, where in due course you were, on 20 November 2014, arrested by police officers.

Mr Black was taken to the Victoria Infirmary by ambulance on 5 November 2014. He had sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. He remained in hospital until 18 December 2015, over a year later, when he was discharged into the care of his family. He received food and medication by way of a tube into his abdomen. For the rest of his life he was bed-bound, minimally conscious, unable to move his limbs in a purposeful way or to communicate and he required 24 hour care. He suffered chest infections and increasingly frequent seizures, resulting in multiple re-admissions to hospital. On 12 September 2019 he was admitted to Hairmyres Hospital suffering from aspiration pneumonia and an increase in seizure activity. He failed to respond to antibiotic treatment. Following discussion with his family he was on 21 September 2019 transferred to Kilbryde Hospice to receive end of life care with the purpose of relieving his breathing difficulties and distress. He died there on 27 October 2019. The forensic pathologist who gave evidence in this case was clear that the main factor in Mr Black’s death was the presence of a severe traumatic brain injury. This injury had predisposed him to the development of bronchopneumonia, which had ultimately been the terminal factor in his death.

In convicting you of Mr Black’s murder, the jury has found that your murderous attack upon him in your flat on 2 November 2014 caused his death on 27 October 2019. I now require to sentence you for the crime of murdering Mr Black.

Mr Black was a loving father and a beloved partner, son and brother. Mr Black’s family commendably took upon themselves the enormous task of his 24 hour care for a period of years. Your actions in taking his life have deprived them of his presence in their lives and nothing that this court can do or say can alleviate the grief experienced by your victim’s family. I have taken time to consider with care the impact statements tendered by the Crown from Mr Black’s family members. Your criminal conduct has already had a life-changing impact upon each one of them, and indeed the consequences of your crime will endure with them on a life-long basis.

You have accrued to date some 14 groups of previous convictions, receiving 7 custodial sentences. The most recent and only indictment level conviction on your record relates to your conviction after trial on 13 August 2015 for the crime of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment, danger of life and attempted murder in respect of the same attack upon Mr Black on 2 November 2014 which this court requires to sentence you for today. The sentence imposed upon you on 4 September 2015 at an adjourned diet after that conviction was an extended sentence comprising a custodial term of 9 years and an extension period of 3 years, which sentence was backdated to 21 November 2014.

I will now grant the motion made by your senior counsel at the bar this morning to quash this earlier conviction in terms of section 11(5) of the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011. Meantime I will take into account the period spent by you in custody to date in respect of the first conviction, which I am now setting aside, by backdating the punishment part of the sentence of life imprisonment which I am imposing upon you in respect of your conviction by the jury today.

As you have been convicted on this indictment of the crime of murder the sentence is fixed by law and is one of imprisonment for life. I also require to impose what I have already referred to as the punishment part of that disposal, which part is the number of years which you must serve before you can be considered for release on licence. I do not fix the time when you will be released; instead, I have to fix the number of years that must be served by you before you can apply for release. The punishment part does not take into account the need for public protection. That important matter is taken into account when any application is made for your release on licence. The punishment part does take into account the sentencing requirements of retribution and deterrence. In the exercise of fixing your punishment part I take into account the lack of planning in this crime and the lack of any weapon used to cause the death of your victim. That said, it is plain that the murderous attack which you visited upon Mr Black at your flat on 2 November 2014 was one of a particular brutality, involving kicking and stamping to the head and the consequent infliction of catastrophic injuries to your victim’s brain. Thinking only and exclusively of yourself, you fled the flat and in due course fled Scotland, all the while knowing full well that you had left Mr Black lying on your kitchen floor in a pool of blood, in which condition he was found only on 5 November 2014, when he was taken to hospital. Your actions in that regard were not only misguidedly self-serving; they were wholly callous and cowardly.

In these whole circumstances therefore I now impose upon you on charge one of this indictment a sentence of life imprisonment and fix the punishment part of that life sentence at a period of 18 years. I attribute 6 months of that period to the bail aggravations libelled in the charge. In the unusual procedural circumstances of this case I duly backdate that period of 18 years to 21 November 2014, for the reasons I have set out already in the course of these remarks.”

26 January 2022