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HMA v Alan Clark


Oct 31, 2023

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Judge Gallacher imposed an extended sentence of 9 years and 6 months on Alan Clark. The offender was found guilty of detaining a person against their will, assault, theft and driving offences. The punishment part of the sentence is 5 years and 6 months imprisonment with a further 4 years at licence in the community.

On sentencing, Judge Gallacher told Clark:

"Alan Clark you were convicted by a jury in relation to an attack by you on a neighbour in July 2021.  You were subject to 4 bail orders all of which included the standard condition that you do did not commit a further offence. By use of physical violence and detaining him against his will you restrained him and stole some of his property including his car.  You then drove that car and did so while you were not qualified to drive and caused a collision with another vehicle and then with a fence.  You did not give the driver of that other car your correct detail and left the scene.  You were at that stage in breach of a specific bail condition that you should not be out of your home address after 7.00pm.

You have a dreadful criminal record and have been a persistent offender since you first appeared at court in 1992.  Your first conviction for assault and robbery took place in the High Court in that year when you were only 16 years of age.  You are now 48 and in those 32 years have committed scores of further offences showing a shocking disregard for anyone and everything in the community around you.  You have used violence to commit a number of offences similar to your first, and to the charge on the present indictment.  You have been a habitual thief and breached public order. You have persistently breached bail.  While you have served many periods of imprisonment other options have been tried but you have failed to comply with the requirements of a sentence in the community.  The social work report was completed on the basis of past notes made on you by the social work department since you refused to cooperate with the preparation of the present report. That report however properly indicted a lack of willingness, or effort on your part to address your offending behaviour and highlighted that you have been unable to sustain any periods when you have desisted from offending.  The conclusion reached by the author of the criminal justice social work report is that you are likely to offend again and that that offending will be of a serious nature. 

The process of giving evidence against you was an uncomfortable one for your neighbour, the victim in this case, but he was able to do so notwithstanding the anxiety and distress which your attack upon him had caused and by the stress of attending court to give evidence.  By contrast when, at the outset, the police sought to interview you about this matter you were abusive and persistently shouted and swore at them.  When I asked that the social work department interview you in relation to considering how the court might determine the sentence to be imposed you refused to comply and left the meeting telling the social worker 'I don’t need this'.  

The fact that you persistently offend, and attack and cause harm to others, increases the expectation that in imposing a penalty upon you I must do what is in my power to ensure that the public are protected from your further offending and to indicate to the victim in this occasion and others that to attack someone in their own home and rob them of their property is something which will be taken seriously by the court.

It is also imperative that I seek to take account of your circumstances in selecting the appropriate sentence.  In part that is why I sought to obtain a criminal justice social work report and your failure to cooperate in that process limits the information that is available to me in that way.  I am conscious of the fact that whilst you were on remand awaiting trial for this matter you suffered mental health difficulties which resulted in treatment being provided and I include that in the consideration as how I deal with the matter.

In sentencing I also take account of the deletions made to the charge which you originally faced.  In particular I have regard to the fact that there is now no longer any reference to your use of a knife in the course of your behaviour on the date libelled on the charge. 

In considering how to deal with you on this occasion I wondered whether it had become necessary for the court to impose upon you an order for lifelong restriction.  Notwithstanding your lack of cooperation there is information available to me in the social work report in respect of an assessment of the risk that you will continue to present the community in the future.  I also have available to me a range of other options in selecting the appropriate disposal and I am not satisfied that it is necessary for me to make an order for lifelong restriction where alternative sentences are available. 

In all of the circumstances in this case because of the gravity of charge 1 and your past criminal record I am satisfied that only a custodial sentence is appropriate in this case.  I am also satisfied that the period for which you would otherwise have been on licence would not be adequate to protect the public from series harm when you are eventually released and for that reason I am going to impose upon you an extended sentence. That will be a sentence of 9 and a half years.  The first part of that will be an immediate period in custody which will be a sentence of 5 years’ 6 months imprisonment.  That period includes 6 months which is due to the offence being committed when you were subject to 4 bail orders and because of your frequent failures to comply with bail conditions as shown in your previous offending. The period of custody will date from 1 October 2021 to take account of when you were first remanded in custody in respect of this case and also with regard to a short sentence which you served on another matter between 7/10/22 and 28/12/22

The second part of the sentence will be served in the community.  From the date of your release you will be under licence for an extension period of 4 years.  The conditions of your licence will be fixed by Scottish Ministers.  If during this extension period you fail to comply with the conditions of your licence it may be revoked and you may be returned to custody for a further period in respect of this case.  The court also has powers to deal with you if you commit another offence after your release and while you are on licence. 

I impose this condition Mr Clark to take account of all of the circumstances as best I am able, including your age, but I also do it with some uncertainty in view of the fact that you have previously failed to comply with conditions of community based orders and in the present indictment were not complying with bail condition in general or with a curfew condition which was forced in place upon you. I make the order in the hope that with the support and regulation of your supervising officer you will be able to avoid further offending

You will be admonished in relation to each of charges 2, 3, 4 and 5, the road traffic offences, but you will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period 1 year from today’s date.  I am not extending that period beyond the period of your incarceration since as it stands you are unable to drive without supervision and passing the driving test.

In relation to charge 6 while you failed to comply with curfew conditions I am satisfied that it is not necessary to impose an additional penalty in that respect. Accordingly, and taking account of the increase in penalty on charge 1 for breach of bail, I impose a sentence of 6 month’s imprisonment on charge 6 with no additional penalty for the breach of other bail orders, to be concurrent with the sentence which I have imposed in charge 1."

31 October 2023