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HMA v Alan Graham Massie


Jun 14, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Fairley sentenced Alan Massie to life imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to murder. The punishment part, the minimum period which he must spend in prison before being able to apply to the Parole Board for Scotland for release on licence , was set at 20 years.

On sentencing Lord Fairley made the following remarks in court:

"Alan Graham Massie, you have pleaded guilty to the murder of Dr William Yule on 6 December 2022.

It is clear to me that Dr Yule was a much loved father and grandfather. He was a man who had contributed significantly to society in his role as a General Practitioner until he retired in 1991.

By 2022, Dr Yule was a vulnerable man in his nineties. His wife had passed away in 2015, and he had chosen to continue to live in his family home with regular assistance from carers. He should have been able to do so in peace and in safety.

By your actions on 6 December 2022, you shattered that peace and safety. Dr Yule was a vulnerable and defenceless man. You entered his home intending to steal from him, but then inflicted upon him a murderous assault that was as brutal as it was cowardly. The level of evil required to act as you did is beyond the comprehension of any normal person. No sentence that I can impose today will provide any comfort to Dr Yule’s family for the enduring hurt and pain that you have caused for his death and their knowledge of the manner of it.  

Your record suggests that, in contrast to Dr Yule, you have contributed little or nothing positive to the community in which you live.  You have numerous convictions for theft, housebreaking, shoplifting, drugs, offences of disorder, and violence. You appear to have no regard whatsoever for court orders, and your inevitable incarceration today for a very lengthy period can be seen only as a substantial improvement to society.

I have considered carefully what has been said on your behalf today by your Senior Counsel.  I have also taken account of what is said in the Victim Impact Statement produced by Dr Yule’s daughter.

I will deal with each of the three charges to which you have pleaded guilty in the order in which they appear on the Indictment.

On charge 1, the sentence I impose upon you is of 6 months imprisonment. That sentence would have been 9 months but for your plea of guilty.

On charge 2, the sentence I impose upon you is one of 8 months imprisonment. That sentence would have been 12 months but for your plea of guilty.

On charge 3 -  the charge of the murder of Dr Yule - I impose upon you the mandatory sentence of imprisonment for life. The law requires, however, that I determine the punishment part of your sentence, which is the  minimum period you must spend in prison before you can apply to the Parole Board for Scotland for release on licence. You should not assume that you will automatically be released at the end of that period. You will be released only when it is considered that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison.

Had you been convicted after trial, the punishment part that I would have imposed on charge 3 would have been of 24 years, of which 6 months would have been attributable to the bail aggravation. In light of the timing of your plea, I will modify that punishment part to a period of 20 years.

The sentences on charges 1, 2 and 3 will all run concurrently.

As I have said, it does not follow that you will be released at the end of the punishment period fixed by me today. Whether or not you are will be for the Parole Board to determine at the appropriate time. Even if you are ultimately released, you will remain on lifelong licence.

You have been in custody on this matter since 8 December 2022. Normally, that would result the period of imprisonment imposed by me today being backdated to the start of your period on remand. In your case, however, you are subject to an unexpired portion of a previous 27 month sentence imposed at Dundee Sheriff Court on 27 April 2021 which will not expire until 12 July 2023. Having regard to that factor, I am not prepared to backdate the sentence now imposed by me, which will therefore run from today."

14 June 2023