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HMA v James McCairn


Aug 31, 2022

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Judge McCormick sentenced James McCairn to seven years' detention after he was convicted of the culpable homicide of Cerys Reeve. Mr McCairn was also convicted of being concerned in the supply of a class A drug.


On sentencing, Judge McCormick said:

"James McCairn, on the 14th June 2022, you were convicted of an amended charge (1) on the Indictment - a charge which was not seriously in dispute, namely, that you had supplied Ecstasy to young people between 1st November 2019 and 13th July 2020. This charge is serious in itself, namely, the supply of Class A drugs to school age children. The court has to do what it can to deter those who might be minded to supply drugs to young people. I accept, from the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, that that lesson has been learned by you. You were also convicted of the culpable homicide of Cerys Reeve.

In the early hours of 13 July 2020 you recklessly supplied Cerys Reeve with a Class A drug, here, Ecstasy. As a consequence of ingesting the drug Cerys Reeve lost her life. She was fourteen years old at the time. You were then aged sixteen. I do not propose to rehearse the evidence and can only imagine the anguish felt by the family of Cerys Reeve. No sentence which this court imposes can reflect the gravity of what happened on 13 July 2020. Indeed, such was the nature of the evidence in this case that some members of the jury were moved to tears on returning their verdicts.

I am mindful of the fact that you are a young man with no previous convictions. You are now aged 18. I require to take account of the recent sentencing guidelines and 2 observations made by the High Court in cases concerning the sentencing of young people. In particular, I am mindful that a period of detention should only be imposed on a person of your age when no other disposal is appropriate. I am of the view that where the life of another has been lost it would not be appropriate to consider a sentence which did not involve a period of detention, and that this requires to be a significant period, whilst taking into account your youth.

I take account of your comparative youth, immaturity, lack of consequential thinking and your capacity to change. Against this, your supply of drugs was not social supply. This supply was for commercial gain which, according to the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, had included pressure on you to repay a drug debt. No doubt on 13 July 2020 you did not intend that the drug supplied by you would have had the consequences which it did. That said, aged 16, you sourced and then advertised drugs on social media for sale to people younger than yourself. That advertising provided a glimpse into your understanding of the effect which drugs may have on those who consume them.

As I have indicated, no sentence which a court can impose will reflect the gravity or the consequences of the circumstances of this case. Weighing the various factors which the court has to consider, there is no appropriate alternative to a custodial sentence. Taking into account of the gravity of both offences and the consequences to Cerys Reeve, while also making allowances for your age and 3 immaturity at the time and now, the appropriate period of detention is seven years which I shall backdate to 14th June 2022 when you were first remanded after conviction."