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HMA v Andrew White


Oct 25, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Doherty handed Andrew White an extended sentence of 8 years 4 months for assaulting two babies, one to the danger of life. The sentence comprises a custodial period of 6 years 4 months and a 2 year extension. White has also been issued with non-harassment orders.

Lord Doherty told White: 

“Andrew White, you pled guilty at the trial diet to 2 charges.

The first charge was an assault to severe injury of a baby when he was less than 3 months old. The assault involved seizing hold of him, compressing his body, pulling and twisting his leg, and inflicting blunt force trauma to his head and body. The assault caused bruising and red marks to several parts of his body and a fracture of his right ankle. The fracture did not require active treatment. It has healed and the child made a full recovery.

The second charge was an assault to severe injury and the danger of life of another baby when he was about 4 weeks old. The agreed narrative points to the assault having involved seizing hold of him, repeatedly shaking him, and inflicting blunt force trauma to his body. On admission to hospital the baby was seen to have a significantly swollen right upper thigh, a 1cm to 2cm bruise across the centre of his chest with an overlying abrasion, and a displaced oblique proximal right femoral shaft fracture. While being assessed in hospital after the attack the baby had a prolonged seizure and had to be intubated and ventilated overnight. A CT scan of his head showed a subdural haemorrhage, which led to the seizure. The haemorrhage and seizure are likely to have been caused by your shaking him. The seizure would have been life threatening had it not been treated promptly. Considerable force would have been needed to cause the leg fracture, which is likely to have caused severe distress and significant pain. The baby was in hospital for 8 days. His leg was in a harness for a further 2 weeks. He was in foster care for several months before he was returned to his mother. The medical evidence indicates that he has made a good recovery. There is no medical evidence of permanent impairment.

I have had regard to the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report and to everything which has been said on your behalf. You had a difficult childhood. You have suffered from mental illness. I accept that you are genuinely remorseful about what you did. I take account of the fact that the year before the second assault you had been badly injured when you were run down by a car. You had to have a leg amputated and a prosthesis fitted. You found it difficult to come to terms with that. You have not had any gainful employment since the accident. You have a limited record of convictions, all at summary level, for which you received non-custodial disposals, but they do disclose a history of threatening and abusing a neighbour using a weapon, and of possessing a weapon. I take account of the fact that at the time of charge 1 you were only 19 and relatively immature. On the other hand, you were a mature adult at the time of charge 2.  

There is no escaping that these were very serious offences committed on vulnerable babies when you were in a position of trust. It is fortunate, particularly in relation to charge 2, that the consequences were not more serious. The Victim Impact Statements make clear that the consequences of the offences for the mothers of the children were serious and long lasting.  

I am going to impose an in cumulo sentence for both offences. It is going to be an extended sentence because I am satisfied that the period you would otherwise be subject to licence would not be adequate for the purpose of protecting the public from serious harm from you. Had you not pled guilty I would have sentenced you to an extended sentence of 9 years’ imprisonment, of which the custodial part would have been 7 years and the extension period 2 years. Although the plea was not tendered until the trial diet I accept that it still had some limited public utility and I give you credit for that. The sentence I pass is an extended sentence of 8 years 4 months ’ imprisonment, made up of a custodial part of 6 years 4 months and an extension period of 2 years. That sentence will be backdated to 18 August 2023, the date when you were remanded in custody.

I shall also make non-harassment orders in relation to the complainer in charge 2 and his mother, the orders being that you do not to approach or contact them, or attempt to do so, other than through a solicitor. Those orders will endure for 10 years.

Finally, I direct the clerk of court to notify the Scottish Ministers of these convictions in terms of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.”

25 October 2023