A judge may decide to publish a statement after passing sentence on an offender in cases where there is particular public interest; where a case has legal significance; or where providing the reasons for the decision might assist public understanding.

Please note that statements may include graphic details of offences when it is necessary to fully explain the reasons behind a sentencing decision.  

Follow us if you wish to receive alerts as soon as statements are published. 

Once charges are spent, any statement in relation to them is removed and cannot be provided or acknowledged. Statements published before the launch of the website may be available on request. Please email

The independence of the judiciary is essential to safeguard people’s rights under law - enabling judges to make decisions impartially based solely on evidence and law, without interference or influence from the government or politicians.

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.

For more information about how judges decide sentences; what sentences are available; and matters such as temporary release, see the independent Scottish Sentencing Council website.

Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.

Read more about civil judgments.

HMA v John Paul McLaughlan


Apr 22, 2024

On 22 April 2024 at a continued preliminary hearing at the High Court of Justiciary at Glasgow John Paul McLaughlan pled guilty to the murder of his partner. Lord Doherty sentenced him to life imprisonment with a punishment part of 17 years’ imprisonment.

His Lordship delivered the following sentencing statement:

“John Paul McLaughlan you have pled guilty to the murder of your partner Stacey Warnock. You used a knife to inflict multiple injuries to her face, neck and body. Several of the stab injuries are likely to have required the use of severe force. The fatal stab injury to Ms Warnock’s neck transected her left vertebral artery, damaged her right vertebral artery, and partially bisected her brain stem. It caused a basal subarachnoid haemorrhage. Death would have been almost immediate after that injury.

The sentence for murder is life imprisonment and that is the sentence which I impose. That sentence will run from 20 December 2022.

I also have to impose a punishment part. That is the period which you will require to serve before you become eligible to seek parole. I have regard to all that has been said on your behalf. I take account of the fact that you have pled guilty at the stage which you have. You have a previous conviction for an assault to injury in 1990 for which you were sentenced to 9 months’ detention. I do not attach much weight to that given the age of that conviction. Your record since then discloses only a contravention of section 47(1) of the Criminal Law Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1995 and a breach of the peace in 2006, both of which were disposed of at summary level by the imposition of fines. However, ultimately there is no escaping that this was a brutal, merciless and sustained attack with a knife on your partner. The punishment part requires to reflect that.

Had you not pled guilty at the stage which you did the punishment part would have been 19 years, 1 year of which would have been attributable to the partner abuse aggravation. In view of your guilty plea the punishment part which I impose is 17 years.

I stress that that does not mean that you will be released after 17 years. It will be for the Parole Board to determine whether you are to be released, and if so, when.”