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HMA v Peter Duffy


Mar 15, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Scott sentenced Peter Duffy to life imprisonment for the murders of Emma Baillie and John Paul Duffy. Peter Duffy must serve a minimum period in prison of 30 years before he may be eligible for parole.

On sentencing, Lord Scott told Duffy:

“You have been found guilty of the murder of your partner Emma Baillie between 4 March 2022 and 12 April 2022, and the murder of your brother John Paul Duffy between 29 March 2022 and 10 April 2022. You were subject to 3 bail orders at the time of both murders and the murder of Emma Baillie is aggravated by her being your abused partner at the time.

In convicting you, the jury unanimously rejected your claim of your brother being responsible for killing Emma Baillie and your claim of having acted in self-defence when you killed your brother. Both of your victims were vulnerable and known by you to be vulnerable. You killed them in domestic settings where they were entitled to feel and be safe, murdering Emma Baillie in your home where she lived with you and murdering your brother in his own home. The murders occurred within a short time of each other almost exactly 2 years ago.  You stabbed both of your victims and Emma Baillie was also throttled.

It was apparent from the evidence that you treated Emma Baillie badly in life in the relatively short time you were together. Charge 2 reflects some of that earlier treatment when it refers to previous malice and ill will shown by you towards her. She was due to appear at Airdrie Sheriff Court as a witness against you on 17 March 2022 on a charge of assault. She could not attend because you had murdered her. Whether that was why you murdered her may never be known but the timing seems more than just a coincidence.  As you put it in one of your messages, having murdered her, in effect, you had one less thing to worry about.

Even after you murdered them, your victims were shown no respect and afforded no dignity. They suffered the further affront of simply being left by you to decompose where you murdered them. After Emma’s death, you busied yourself in using her money to provide for your needs, apparently also taking some time to mark your birthday.

Whether or not it was your intention when you murdered your brother, you sought to use his murder to attempt to avoid responsibility for Emma’s death. Even in death, therefore, your brother was not allowed to rest in peace. You sought to blacken the character of both of your victims. You failed. From an early stage, you planned, plotted and lied to try to escape the consequences of your awful actions. You even told a fellow prisoner in Kilmarnock Prison that you were guilty as well as telling him how you proposed to lie your way out of trouble because, otherwise, you were afraid that you would spend the rest of your life in prison. The obvious and insulting lies you told him you planned to tell were the very same lies you told the jury. Your lies were in vain. The jury saw right through them.

A further consequence of your lies, however, is that your victims’ families and friends do not know, and may never know, what actually happened in their loved ones’ final moments beyond what is apparent from the fatal injuries you inflicted.

There is a victim impact statement in this case prepared by Emma’s father, Stuart Baillie. It is clear that there has been a significant and lasting impact through the loss to him and his family.  He described feeling bereft and numb, indeed saying that he wanted to feel numb. Nothing said or done here today, and no sentence I impose will be enough to help with the devastating loss of a much loved daughter who was Stuart Baillie’s only child. He gets flashes of her final moments which he cannot shake. They prevent him from living life as he used to. He is, and will continue to be, affected every day by what you did to Emma. Emma’s mother has attended today and will obviously be equally devastated.

The presence of family and loved ones in the court is a silent tribute to John Paul Duffy and their loss is also apparent. As with Emma, the sentence I pass today will offer little comfort although at least now it may be that your victims can rest in peace.

Before passing sentence, I asked for a criminal justice social work report.  This was with a view to finding out more about your background and any other information relevant to your previous offending. 

I note that you maintained the same position in interview with the author of the criminal justice social work report as you did in your evidence which involves you accepting no real responsibility for what happened.  You merely repeated the unconvincing fabrications rejected by the jury when they convicted you of both murders.

I note what is said about adverse childhood experiences but, given your age and the circumstances of the present crimes, I attach little weight to that. I note your difficulties as regards your mental health but these are not such as to reduce your criminal responsibility and can be addressed during your long stay in prison. Your abuse of drugs and alcohol is also mentioned briefly. No doubt it contributed to what you did in that short but significant spell of self-absorption and unthinkable violence 2 years ago.

You have 5 previous convictions including one on indictment for assault to severe injury.  For that conviction in 1993, you received a sentence of 2 years detention. That conviction is not entirely irrelevant but I attach no great weight to it in view of its age.

I have considered all that is said in the criminal justice social work report and what has been carefully said on your behalf by Mr Gebbie.  I take into account also the violent nature of both murders and the surrounding circumstances.

You are now 48 years old. You are criminally responsible for the violent murder of 2 people who were close to you. The CJSWR understandably assesses you as posing a maximum risk of further offending. I note this as it has a bearing on the work you will have to do to address the factors that led to what you did. For the avoidance of doubt, I leave entirely out of account the risk you pose. It is not relevant in selecting the punishment part of your life sentence.

I will deal firstly with charge 5. On that charge, you are simply admonished. Although it may be largely academic, I also make a disqualification order to prevent you from owning or keeping any animal for an indeterminate period. This is due to your brutal killing of your brother’s pet cat. Disturbing though that act was, it pales into complete insignificance by comparison to the 2 murders.

In the circumstances and as required by law, I sentence you to life imprisonment. If you had been convicted only of the brutal murder of Emma Baillie, I would have imposed a punishment part in the region of 18 to 20 years, which would have included 18 months for the bail aggravations and the domestic aggravation. In the circumstances, taking into account also the brutal murder of John Paul Duffy, I specify a punishment part for the 2 murders of 30 years.  The punishment part will run from 16 April 2022.  You should understand that this is not a sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment – 30 years is the minimum period of time you will have to serve before you can be considered for parole.  Whether, and if so, when, you are released on or after you are 76 years old will be a matter for the Parole Board to determine after that 30 year period and will be decided on the basis of the risk you are assessed to pose at that time. Depending on the question of risk, you may never be released."