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HMA v James Maxwell
Oct 26, 2023
On sentencing, Lord Ericht told Maxwell:
“James Maxwell you have pled guilty on a section 76 indictment to four charges relating to a gun and ammunition, and two charges relating to pornography.
I have given careful consideration to all that has been said on your behalf by your counsel today and the Criminal Justice Social Work report and to the two psychiatric reports. You have no previous convictions.
I shall deal first with the gun and ammunition charges and then with the pornography charges.
The gun and ammunition charges are, in summary, and in each case between 1 December 2022 and 11 January 2023:
Charge 1: purchasing and attempting to acquire and possess a Glock 17 Pistol contrary to Section 5(1)(aba) of the Firearms Act 1968
Charge 2: purchasing and attempting to acquire and possess a Glock 17 Pistol without holding a firearms certificate, contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Firearms Act 1968
Charge 3: purchasing and attempting to acquire and possess without holding a firearms certificate, and a quantity of ammunition contrary to Section 1(1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1968
Charge 4: in an attempt at fraudulent evasion of the prohibition on importation of a Glock 17 Pistol and 100 rounds of hollow point live ammunition, attempt to import these items contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, section 170(2)(b).
At your police interview you said that in October 2022 your mental health had deteriorated and you began feeling suicidal. That is consistent with the psychiatric reports obtained by both Crown and defence.
The period of each charge begins on 1 December 2022.
You did an internet search for “When do the schools break up for Christmas 2022”.
You also searched “Dunblane school massacre” and “primary school in Glasgow”.
Suicide is a feature of many school massacres. Both the Dunblane school massacre and many of the American school massacres ended with the killer turning his gun on himself.
The ammunition you ordered was far in excess of the amount necessary to kill yourself. You ordered 100 rounds.
The ammunition you ordered was of a specific type which was not necessary to kill yourself. It was hollow point live ammunition. Hollow point ammunition is designed to cause greater injury than standard ammunition. It is designed to deform on impact, increasing the surface area of the bullet and therefore causing greater damage to someone who is shot.
The gun and ammunition were not acquired lawfully in the UK. You had no firearms licence and the pistol is a prohibited weapon. Instead you sourced them on the dark web. You bought them from the USA. You paid for them in cryptocurrency. They were mailed to you in boxes concealed in a household electronic device.
US law enforcement officers detected and removed the gun and ammunition. The package was replaced in the mail system and delivered to your house in Leven on 11 January 2023. You unscrewed the household device and accessed the empty boxes, and looked at a Glock pistol instruction manual, which you had, the previous day, saved on your computer. You were then arrested.
100 rounds of that kind of ammunition used against school pupils would have been an unimaginable horror.
I consider you to be a grave risk to public safety.
I sentence you as follows.
Charge 1 is a charge under sec 5(1)(aba) of the Firearms Act. It carries a minimum sentence of 5 years
Despite Mr Crowes eloquent plea, I am not persuaded that there are circumstances which would justify departing from the minimum sentence.
I am going to impose 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 10 years’ imprisonment, of which the custodial part would have been 6 years and the extension period 4 years.
However, in recognition of your early plea the sentence on charge 1 will be 9 years, comprising a custodial part of 5 years and an extension period of 4 years.
On charge 2, were it not for your early guilty plea, I would have sentenced you to a period of imprisonment of 3 years. In recognition of your early plea the sentence will be 2 years.
On charge 3, were it not for your early guilty plea, I would have sentenced you to a period of imprisonment of 3 years. In recognition of your early plea the sentence will be 2 years.
On charge 4 , were it not for your early guilty plea, I would have sentenced you to a period of imprisonment of 3 years. In recognition of your early plea the sentence will be 2 years.
I turn now to the pornography charges.
Charge 5, under sec 52(1) (a) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, concerns a category A video of an 8 to 10 year old female child.
Charge 6, under sec 51A(1) of the 1982 Act concerns eight extreme pornographic still images of sexual activity with animals.
I shall impose a cumulo sentence covering charges 5 and 6. But for your early plea I would have imposed a sentence of 3 months. In view of that plea, I shall impose a sentence of imprisonment of a period of 2 months.
In relation to charge 5 you will be subject to the notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for a period of seven years.
Notification will be made to the Scottish Ministers under the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 in relation to charges 5 and 6.
All of these sentences will run concurrently and will be backdated to 11 January 2023.
I commend both the United States law enforcement officers and Police Scotland for their actions in ensuring that the gun and ammunition were not received by you.”26 October 2023