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When deciding a sentence, a judge must deal with the offence that the offender has been convicted of, taking into account the unique circumstances of each particular case. The judge will carefully consider the facts that are presented to the Court by both the prosecution and by the defence.
Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA v Sam Atkins
Jan 22, 2024
On sentencing, Lord Clark told Atkins:
“Sam Atkins, you pled guilty to three serious offences. On 21 March 2023 you assaulted your then partner. The assault including forcing her head under water in the bath, causing her to think she was going to drown. She ran to the bedroom and you came in, sat on top of her, compressed her neck with your arm and punched her.
On 25 March 2023, you assaulted her again. You went into her flat, holding a knife in each hand. You swung the knives at her, striking her on the arms, chest, knee, legs and chin.
That night, a 69-year old man who was an acquaintance of your then partner was also in the flat. You attacked him and murdered him. On his neck and head he was found to have bruising, fractures, and several stab wounds. You also stabbed him in other parts of the body. A total of twenty two well-defined stab wounds were found as well as other probable stab wounds.
From the messages sent to the first complainer shortly after the first offence, you recognised the terrible nature of your behaviour, including that it was potentially psychotic and involved a complete lack of self-control.
But the even more devastating second and third offences were carried out by you a few days later.
You committed each of the offences while you were on bail. The first two offences were also aggravated by abuse of your then partner.
I have taken into account everything said on your behalf this morning by Mr Rennuci KC and the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work report (CJSWR). It notes that you were taking drink and drugs and that you claim to have no recollection of the second and third offences, or where you got the weapons from.
You have expressed remorse for your actions and told the author of the CJSWR that you do not recognise who you were at the time of these offences. You have said that, in prison, you are now getting the help you need.
I note what is said about your family background and personal history and the mental health problems you have had for quite some time.
You have some, albeit limited, previous convictions.
There is no sentence available to me which can alleviate the impact of your conduct on your former partner or the friends or family of the deceased.
The sentence for the third crime, murder, is fixed by law. I sentence you to life imprisonment.
The sentence I impose for the first two crimes is a cumulo sentence of five years. If you had been convicted after a trial, the sentence would have been seven years and six months, with 12 months attributed to the aggravating factors. It is discounted 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.
If you had been convicted of this murder after a trial, the punishment part for that offence would have been 19 years, with six months of that period attributed to the aggravation of committing the crime while on bail. That period falls to be reduced because of the timing of your plea.
However, an element of the sentence for the other offences will be added to the punishment part.
In the whole circumstances, the total punishment part is 18 years. It comprises 15 years and 8 months for the murder and 2 years and 4 months for the other crimes.
This does not mean that your sentence is 18 years. You are sentenced to life imprisonment 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 27 March 2023 when you were first remanded in custody.
You are also subject to the Non-Harassment Order that I made on the last occasion.”
22 January 2024