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HMA v Lyndsay Lawrence


May 28, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Tyre sentenced Lyndsay Lawrence to 4 years imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of assaulting a nine-month-old baby to his severe injury and to the danger of his life and exposing the child to unnecessary suffering or injury.

On sentencing, Lord Tyre told Lawrence:

“By the verdict of the jury you were convicted after trial of two charges: one of assault of a nine month old baby to his severe injury and to the danger of his life, and the other of exposing the child to unnecessary suffering or injury.  In reaching their verdict, the jury deleted the charge of attempted murder.  They made further significant deletions from the indictment, including the reference to inflicting trauma to the child’s body, the word “repeatedly” in charge 1, and all references in charge 2 to causing the child to be exposed to or to ingest cocaine or amphetamines.  It is therefore important to be clear about what remains.  The jury were clearly satisfied that you inflicted the baby’s head injuries, including but not restricted to those caused by shaking him.  They were satisfied on the evidence that those injuries were of sufficient severity to cause danger to his life.  They were also satisfied that you had burned him on the bottom with a hair dryer.  That is the basis upon which I pass sentence on you today.

I have read the social work report which was prepared on my instructions.  I note that you continue to deny having caused the injuries to the child and it appears that you have little insight into the harm that you have caused.  You are assessed as posing a medium risk of further offending in the light of risk factors including your mental health difficulties, drug use, negative peer associates and your attitude towards offending.  I note that your co-operation with supervision requirements in connection with the community payback order referred to in the social work report has not been good. 

I have also listened to what has been said on your behalf by Mr Duguid this morning, including what he said about your medical conditions.  In determining an appropriate sentence I place no weight on your past offending history which is not of an analogous nature.  In all the circumstances I do not consider it necessary to pass an extended sentence in order to address the risk of you re-offending.  However, as the social worker has noted, you will be expected to engage with support both while in custody and in the community after release on licence to address your identified needs associated with your offending. 

Turning then to the sentence, I assess your culpability in relation to the head injuries as high: blows to a baby’s head and shaking are obviously intentional injuries.  There can be no excuse whatever for the infliction of such injuries on a small and vulnerable child entrusted to your care.  You must have known that there was a risk of severe injury to him.  The burns to his bottom can only have come about by the intentional application of a hair dryer so close to his skin as to cause these horrible injuries.  As regards the degree of harm, it happily appears from available information that the child made a good recovery from his injuries.  That does not however alter the fact that striking a baby on the head and shaking him is eminently capable of causing severe injury and could be life-threatening.  These are undoubtedly serious offences, especially the offence in charge 1.  To make matters worse they were committed while you were in a position of trust in relation to the child.

In the absence of any assistance from you, it is impossible for me to reach any view as to how exactly it came about that the injuries were inflicted.  However it does seem that everything was done within a short period of time and for that reason I consider it appropriate to impose a single cumulo sentence for both charges on the basis that they both concern injuries inflicted upon the baby during a single episode of violent behaviour.  On charges 1 and 2 together, therefore, I sentence you to imprisonment for a period of four years, backdated to 19 April 2024 when you were remanded in custody.

Let me emphasise again that the timing of your release from prison will depend upon you co-operating fully with support services.  That matter at least lies in your own hands.  I would also expect that your medical treatment will continue despite your detention in prison.”

28 May 2024