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HMA v Daniel Haig


Aug 16, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Clark sentenced Daniel Haig to life in prison with a minimum period of 16 years in custody. Haig had previously been convicted for the murder of Justin McLaughlin.

Lord Clark told Haig:

“Daniel Haig, in October 2021, when you were 16, you murdered Justin McLaughlin, a boy who had just turned 14. You accepted that you stabbed him and caused his death but you denied that it was murder. The jury decided it was murder. The evidence of what you did, including CCTV footage, was overwhelmingly clear in that regard.  

The incident happened at High Street train station in Glasgow. You were there with a friend, the pair of you standing about half-way along the platform. A group of other teenagers, including Justin McLaughlin, came down the stairs to the front end of the platform. They were quite some distance away.

You had a large knife with you, in your backpack. You took it out. You ran along the platform towards the group, with the knife in your hand. The knife fell and ended up on the rail track. You kept on running towards the group and engaged in a fight at the bottom of the stairs.

The fight ended. The group were then all moving away from you, many yards along the platform. In your evidence, you admitted, several times, that you were under no threat. You were at the bottom of the stairs and could easily have left the station. But no, you decided to calmly walk back along the platform and then jump down on to the rail track and pick up your knife. Then you got back on to the platform, brandishing the knife, and you chased after the group. They were all running some distance away from you, but Justin McLaughlin tripped and fell. You ran right up to him and as he was standing back up you stabbed him. The knife went right through his heart.

The information before me includes Victim Impact Statements from the mother and father of Justin McLaughlin. Your murder of him has had a devastating effect on the family.  They are left with the dreadful loss you have caused for the rest of their lives. There is no sentence available to me which can even begin to alleviate the impact on them.

Justin McLaughlin and those with him were from a different area or scheme in Glasgow than the area you are from. In the course of the incident, gang names and gestures were used by each side.

It is deeply disturbing to see this gang activity still happening. It has been going on for many decades. A boy with a knife attacking and killing another boy because he is from a different local scheme, and there is gang rivalry, is completely senseless.   

The sentence for murder is fixed by law. I therefore sentence you to detention for life.

You earlier pled guilty to two other crimes. The first was acting with others and striking a man on the head and body with a garden fork or similar implement, to his injury, and the second is you being found by the police, in Glasgow Green, having a knife in your possession.

The sentence I impose for those other two crimes is two years and three months, reduced from three years because of the timing of the guilty pleas. That sentence will run concurrently with the life sentence.

I also have to fix a punishment part of your sentence. It is very important that you understand that the punishment part is not a limit to the period of time you will spend in custody before being released. It is simply a period during which you will not be entitled to apply for parole.  

When selecting the punishment part, I’ve had regard to everything said in the Sentencing Young People Guideline. This includes the issue of culpability. You committed this crime when aged 16. There are some, albeit limited, indications of your lack of maturity. At that age, although not at the murder incident itself, you were influenced negatively by your peers.

I have also taken into account what has been said on your behalf this morning in mitigation. I have had regard to the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work report, including what it explains about your personal circumstances and background.

You have accepted responsibility for causing the death of this boy and you have expressed remorse for your actions.

The stabbing was a single blow. I also note that you have no previous convictions.

But this brutal murder is extremely serious.

And there are aggravating factors.

You said in your evidence that you took the knife with you to protect yourself. That’s not what happened. It is clear that you intended to have the knife available to use it as a weapon to attack someone, because that’s exactly what you did.

In addition, Justin McLaughin was only 14, a child.

And he was just getting back on his feet when you stabbed him. He was in a defenceless position.

In fixing the punishment part, I also take into account the other crimes to which you pled guilty.

Having regard to the whole circumstances, the punishment part will be 16 years.

That punishment part comprises 15 years for the murder and 1 year attributed to the other crimes.

As I have said, this does not mean that your sentence is 16 years. You are sentenced to detention for life and after the punishment part is served it will then be for the Parole Board to determine whether, and, if so, when, you may ultimately be released and they will have regard to the safety of the public in reaching that decision.

Your sentence is backdated to 19 October 2021 when you were first remanded in custody.”

16 August 2023