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Apr 2, 2024

At the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh on 29 February 2024 JC pled guilty under section 76 procedure to assaulting a 10 year old child to injury and the danger of life. On 2 April 2024 at the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh Lord Doherty sentenced him to 3 years and 4 months’ imprisonment together with a supervised release order for 12 months following his release.

Lord Doherty delivered the following sentencing statement:

“[JC] you have pled guilty to assaulting a 10 year old boy, by repeatedly striking him on the head and body, or otherwise inflicting injuries to his head and body, and of placing and holding a pillow over his face and applying pressure to it, all to his injury and to the danger of his life. The child suffered from severe cerebral palsy since he was 8 weeks old. He is severely disabled. He requires 24 hour care which was provided by his mother and you. On the day in question you were left in charge of him while his mother was out for the evening. Despite being in charge of that child and his siblings you drank 2 bottles of Buckfast wine. Your behaviour became odd. You assaulted the disabled child inflicting grazing and bruising to the right side of his face, bruising to his upper lip, nose, cheek bone and around the eyes, a swollen lip, a petechial haemorrhage to his left eye, very extensive bruising to both buttocks, and bruising to both legs. Several of the injuries to the face are consistent with an attempted smothering to the danger of life.

The child made a full recovery from the physical injuries. There are no apparent signs of long term emotional or psychological damage, but it is difficult to assess whether there is any because the child cannot speak.

I have regard to all that has been said on your behalf and to the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report. Until the assault you appear to have looked after the child well. You were hard working in your employment and you seem to have contributed significantly to the family. I accept that the events of that evening were out of character. I accept that for some time before it you had been suffering from a mild to moderate depressive disorder. I also accept that it is likely that you were suffering from a degree of carer stress. However it seems likely that the major cause of you becoming violent that evening was your excessive consumption of alcohol.

You have a prior history of violence when you have been drunk, which I recognise was not domestic violence. I accept that you are genuinely remorseful and that you wish to make amends to the child and the rest of the family. Whether at some time after your release from prison you will be permitted to resume family life with the children will be for others to decide.

This was a very serious assault on a vulnerable child in your care. The consequences could easily have been much more severe than they were. A significant custodial sentence is necessary to reflect your culpability and the harm caused. Had it not been for your early plea of guilty the sentence I would have imposed would have been an extended sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment made up of a custodial part of 5 years and an extension period of 2 years. In light of your plea the sentence that I impose is one of 3 years 4 months’ imprisonment. In my judgement, a supervised release order is also required to protect the public from serious harm on your release.

Accordingly, I order that on your release from custody you will be under the supervision of the local authority for a period of 12 months. During that period you will report to the supervising officer allocated to supervise you in a manner and at intervals specified by him or her; you will keep your supervising officer informed of your current address and you will comply with any other requirement he or she may reasonably specify. If you breach the order, you may be brought back to court and returned to custody for all or any part of a period equal to that between the date of your first breach of the order and the date when your supervision would expire. [JC affirmed that he understood].

Very well. I sentence you to 3 years and 4 months’ imprisonment and to a supervised release order of 12 months. That sentence will be backdated until 30 May 2023.”