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PF Dundee v James Walton
Feb 1, 2024
On sentencing Sheriff Jillian Martin-Brown made the following remarks in court:
" Mr Walton, I have taken into account what has been said on your behalf by your counsel, as well as the terms of the criminal justice and social work report. I have also taken into account the information the Crown provided me in relation to a non-harassment order. Ultimately, I have decided that an alternative to custody is available in your case. I will set out the sentence that I am imposing first and then I will explain the reasons for my decision. A copy of my sentencing statement is available from my clerk.
Community Payback Order – Unpaid Work Requirement
Given the seriousness of your offence, I have decided to impose a community payback order with a requirement for unpaid work for the maximum of 300 hours spread across each of your three offences. In respect of the most serious matter (SCS/2023-058652) I will impose 150 hours. That will be reduced by one third to 100 hours in light of your guilty plea at the outset. In respect of the incidents at Glamis Road (SCS/2023-099539), I will impose 90 hours. That will be reduced by one third to 60 hours in light of your guilty plea at the outset. In respect of the incident at Lunan Bay (SCS/2023-052054), I will impose 60 hours. That will be reduced by one third to 40 hours in light of your guilty plea at the outset. That adds up to a total of 300 hours, reduced to 200 hours in light of your guilty pleas at the outset.
In respect of your most serious offence, the unpaid work is imposed as an alternative to custody. If you breach your community payback order, then a custodial sentence may be imposed in its place. I will allow two years for you to complete those hours in light of your caring responsibilities - it may be possible for you to complete them sooner than that.
Community Payback Order – Supervision Requirement
I have decided to follow the recommendation of Angus Council’s social work department to impose a community payback order with a supervision requirement for a period of two years in respect of the most serious of your three offences (SCS/2023-058652). The purpose of the supervision requirement is to provide you with an opportunity to engage in offence focussed work. Given the pattern of behaviour demonstrated within your relationship with Ms Walker, it is imperative that you address this to reduce the risk of harm to future intimate partners.
Community Payback Order – Programme Requirement
Given the established pattern of domestic offending, you have been assessed as suitable for the Fergus Programme. That is a group work programme run within Angus Justice Services which works with perpetrators of domestic offences and allows intervention to be directed towards reducing the risk that you may pose to women, and, directly or indirectly, any children involved. It also supports you to construct a safety plan to implement changes within intimate relationships. I will impose the programme requirement in respect of the most serious of your three offences (SCS/2023-058652).
Community Payback Order - Conduct Requirement
At interview, social work noted that you did not fully disclose your history of intimate relationships. There is therefore a risk that you may continue not to be fully transparent with workers. In order to offer a level of safeguarding to potential future partners, I will impose a conduct requirement that you disclose within 72 hours to your supervising officer any new or emerging intimate relationships in respect of the most serious of your three offences (SCS/2023-058652).
In light of the information provided by the Crown in favour of a non-harassment order and the circumstances of the offences, I have determined that there is a need for them to be protected by such an order. I will therefore impose a non-harassment order in the same terms as your bail conditions, namely not to approach the complainers in respect of the most serious of your three offences for a period of two years.
Reasons for Decision
As you have acknowledged, it would be open to me to impose a custodial sentence in respect of these offences. You have previous served a lengthy custodial sentence in respect of a misuse of drugs offence. You have now pled guilty to a series of domestic offences . A child was present during some of the incidents outlined within those offences. You have engaged in a catalogue of coercive and controlling behaviour which is likely to have a lasting psychological impact . You have also repeatedly breached bail conditions. Whilst you stated you accepted full responsibility for aspects of the various offences, social work have also reported that there was evidence of minimisation throughout their interview with you. You denied certain offences had occurred, apportioned blame to the complainer for your actions and attributed your behaviour to your mental health. You also expressed some concerning views towards both women and relationships at interview.
However, I am satisfied that a non-custodial sentence is appropriate in the particular circumstances of this case. Although you have previously served a custodial sentence, that was nearly 20 years ago in 2004. There is a significant gap in your offending from 2014 until 2022 – 2023. You have no previous convictions for domestic offences.
In terms of your personal circumstances, you are a full time carer for your elderly parents and are not currently in employment. You recently provided palliative care to an uncle who recently passed away. You have been receiving hospital treatment for a condition which is ongoing.
The Scottish Sentencing Council’s Principles and Purposes of Sentencing Guideline makes it clear that in weighing up all the relevant factors of your case, I am required to impose a sentence which is no more severe than is necessary. I am of the view that in light of all the particular circumstances of this case, the non-custodial sentence I have imposed achieves the purposes of punishment and societal disapproval, as well as the opportunity for effective rehabilitation, which is required in order to reduce the risk of harm to future intimate partners.