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HMA v Gavin Donaldson


Apr 27, 2023

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court today, Sheriff Douglas Keir sentenced Gavin Donaldson to 14 months imprisonment after he pled guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

In sentencing, Sheriff Keir said:

“Gavin Donaldson, you have pled guilty to a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice between 20 and 22 November 2020.  You committed this offence during the course of your duties as a serving police officer.

This is a very serious offence, involving your attempts to instruct a vulnerable young woman to destroy evidence of the relationship you had conducted with her. You first met this young woman in the course of your police duties investigating allegations by her of domestic abuse. You maintained contact with her, engaged in frequent communication with her and then formed a consensual sexual relationship with her. 

When you suspected that Police Scotland were investigating you in relation to that relationship, you repeatedly instructed her to delete all evidence from her phone of all communications you had had with her, suggested to her that she did not hand over her phone to investigating police officers and attempted to influence what she should say to those police officers.

All of this was done while you were a serving police officer which is a significant aggravating factor.  The general public and society as a whole have the right to expect the highest standards of those who serve in the police force. By your deliberate actions, you have fallen far short of those standards and damaged the trust that is placed in the police.

I have given careful consideration to the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work report and everything said on your behalf in mitigation of sentence. You are a first offender. You accept responsibility for your actions and you are remorseful. You are no longer a serving police officer having resigned from Police Scotland.  I also take into account your early plea, having pled guilty at the First Diet stage.

In deciding on the appropriate sentence, I have taken into account the principles of sentencing and all relevant sentencing guidelines. In doing so, I need to assess the gravity of the offending, the harm caused and your culpability. The offence committed was a calculated and deliberate attempt by a serving police officer to pervert the course of a police investigation into your behaviour. The offence is aggravated by the abuse of the trust placed in you by the vulnerable young woman involved.

In all of the circumstances, while I have considered all options, I have concluded that there is no alternative sentence to a custodial sentence for an offence of this gravity. I therefore sentence you to a period of 14 months imprisonment discounted from a period of 19 months to take account of the timing of your guilty plea. This sentence will run from today.”

27 April 2023