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.
Please note that statements may include graphic details of offences when it is necessary to fully explain the reasons behind a sentencing decision.
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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.
For more information about how judges decide sentences; what sentences are available; and matters such as temporary release, see the independent Scottish Sentencing Council website.
Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA v Christopher Harrisson
Mar 9, 2023
On sentencing, Lord Richardson said:
"Christopher Harrisson you have been found guilty of the murder of your former wife, Dr Brenda Page on 14 July 1978.
On the evidence which I have heard, your actions that night appear to have been premediated at least to a degree. It appears that you were stalking Brenda Page that night. You then forced entry to her flat by prizing open a rear window while she was out and waited for her to return.
You then subjected her to a sustained and vicious attack. You struck her at least 20 times on the face and head with a blunt weapon. You continued to hit her even as she sought to protect her face and head with her hands and arms.
Your assault caused her skull to be fractured and significant intracranial bleeding. Brenda Page lost consciousness and died while in a state of coma from inhalation of blood.
As a result of your senseless act of violence, you brought the life of Dr Brenda Page to a brutal and premature end. You created a void in the lives of her mother, her sister, her nephews and her friends which could never be filled. Her potential as a brilliant scientist was left forever unrealised.
In that regard, I have read the deeply moving statement prepared by her sister. It is clear to me that, even now, almost 45 years later, the effect of your actions on 14 July 1978 continue to be felt.
The sentence for murder is fixed by law and shortly I will impose that sentence on you. At the same time I must fix the punishment part for your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to the Parole Board for Scotland to be released on licence.
The punishment part must satisfy the requirements for retribution and deterrence taking into account the seriousness of the murder but ignoring any period of confinement which may be necessary for the protection of the public.
You are 82 years of age. I note that you appear before me as a first offender with no prior criminal history.
I have also taken into account everything else that has been said on your behalf by Mr McConnachie today.
From your position at trial, I understand that you continue to deny responsibility for you actions. You show no remorse.
Christopher Harrisson, having taken account of the whole circumstances of your case, I sentence you to life imprisonment and I impose a punishment part of 20 years.
This will run from today’s date.”