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HMA v Andrew Innes


Feb 6, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Beckett sentenced Andrew Innes to life imprisonment for the murders of Bennylyn Burke and her two year old daughter Jellica. The punishment part, the time spent in prison before being considered for parole, was set at 36 years.

On sentencing, Lord Beckett said:

"Andrew Innes, you have been found guilty of murdering Bennylyn Burke and her two year old daughter Jellica. For murder, the punishment is fixed by law. You will be sentenced to life imprisonment on charges 1 and 2.

"I take account of what has been said in mitigation by senior counsel. I note that at the age of 52 you have no previous convictions. You have a history of employment. It is plain that you have a serious physical condition which causes considerable difficulties for you. I have considered various reports from psychiatrists and psychologists which were lodged with the court. Several of the professionals consider that you have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and I proceed on that basis.

"A psychologist has suggested that it could bear on culpability but confirms that it does not predispose a person to violence. You have no learning difficulties or impairment to your intellectual functioning. Considering the evidence led in the trial and the nature of what you did, I do not find a convincing basis to conclude that there is any material reduction in your culpability by virtue of autism spectrum disorder.

"I take account of the limited mitigating factors I have mentioned in fixing the punishment part of your life sentence which is the period of time you will serve in prison before being considered for parole. In fixing it, I must reflect the need to punish you for the crime of murder and deter you and others from committing it. The law requires me to ignore any risk that you may pose to the public in the future. This does not mean that you will serve just this period. It will be for the Parole Board to determine when it is safe for you to be released from prison. The question of parole cannot arise before the punishment part has passed.

"I must also take account of the seriousness of the crimes of murder of which you have been convicted, combined with the other offences on the indictment. I will deal first with those other crimes.

"Charge 6 involved the serious sexual abuse of a girl of 2 committed after you had murdered her mother. You will go to prison for 6 years. 

"Charge 5 involved you repeatedly raping a child of 7, attempting to rape her in other ways, sexually penetrating her and both coercing and inducing her to touch you sexually.  You gagged and handcuffed her. Your abuse extended over a number of days after she had witnessed the murder of Bennylyn Burke and had become aware of the disappearance of two year old Jellica. It is a crime of exceptional cruelty and depravity meriting severe punishment. You will go to prison for 10 years.

"Charge 7 involved an organised and determined, albeit ultimately futile, attempt to conceal evidence of what you had done in order to evade justice. You will go to prison for 6 years.

"You murdered an innocent woman and her two year old daughter in a situation where they had trusted you and travelled with you from Bristol to your home in Dundee. You murdered the physically small and defenceless Bennylyn Burke by stabbing her with a long-bladed knife, or Samurai sword as you described it, which penetrated deeply and, in the presence of at least one of the children sought to ensure that she died by striking her repeatedly on the head with a hammer.

"For no apparent reason other than that she was crying, you murdered a child of 2 by smothering and strangling her. Her age and vulnerability are significantly aggravating features. 

"These are amongst the very worst crimes which have come before the High Court of Justiciary.

"The consequences of what you did are devastating for Ms Burke’s extended family and will have a lifelong impact on the complainer on charge 5. She feels she can never trust any man and is so scared that as she enters any room she is thinking of how she could escape from it.  I have also read deeply moving statements from other people affected by what you did.

"Bennylyn Burke’s elderly father in the Phillipines explains the grievous impact on him and his wider family brought about by your actions. His health, lifestyle and wellbeing have been seriously disrupted by the consequences. He cannot work and suffers the loss of his beloved and irreplaceable daughter and grand-daughter.

"Bennylyn’s sister has suffered overwhelming shock and grief from losing her sister and niece in such terrible circumstances. She has suffered considerable physical, mental and emotional difficulties as a result of what you did. She cannot sleep and cannot work. She also explains the impact of the loss of support from Bennylyn on the lifestyle that she and her family used to enjoy.

"Jellica’s father Lexington Burke has lost his beloved daughter and is left in a state of anger and agonising disbelief that anyone could be so cruel as to kill her mother in front of Jellica and then sexually abuse such young children and murder Jellica.

"Considering the whole circumstances, the punishment part on the two charges of murder will be one of 36 years, backdated to 8 March 2021.

"This does not mean that this is a sentence of 36 years. You are sentenced to life imprisonment and you will serve at least 36 years before you can be considered for release on parole. It will be for the Parole Board to determine whether you will ultimately be released and they will consider the safety of the public in reaching that decision.

"All of the sentences will be served concurrently and are backdated to 8 March 2021.

 "I certify that charges 5 and 6 are sexual offences within the scope of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. You will be subject to notification requirements indefinitely.

 "Whilst it is academic given the length of your confinement, I also direct the clerk of court, at the appropriate time, to refer details of the relevant convictions, charges 2, 5 and 6, to the Scottish Ministers for your name to be included in the list of persons unsuitable to work with children.”