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HMA v Morgan Houldsworth


Jun 24, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Tyre imposed an extended sentence of 9 years and 8 months on Morgan Houldsworth after the offender pled guilty to attempted murder. The extended sentence comprises a custodial term of 6 years and 8 months with an extension period of 3 years.

On sentencing Lord Tyre made the following remarks in court:

"You have pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Declan Smith, on 3 June 2023 at the Bathgate Gala.

The circumstances of the offence are set out in the agreed narrative, and the justice social work report that I instructed provides me with considerable helpful information as to the background to the commission of the offence.  It appears that this was the latest and most serious incident in a long feud between you and your associates on the one hand and Declan Smith and his associates on the other.  It is not acceptable for violent feuds of this kind to be carried on in our communities and I do not regard it as in any way a mitigating factor that the incident at the Bathgate Gala had been preceded by threats made against you by Declan Smith and others.

It is clear from your record of previous convictions that carrying a knife is a matter of habit for you.  It is inevitable that sooner or later the knife will be used to cause injury, especially when the carrier is under the influence of drink or drugs.  You used the knife to attack Declan Smith and in so doing you caused life-threatening injuries.  Were it not for medical intervention you might be facing a charge of murder.

I have listened to what has been said on your behalf this morning, and I have read the justice social work report prepared on my instructions.  In view of the seriousness of this offence and your previous record of violence, a sentence of imprisonment is clearly the only appropriate one. 

You are currently aged 23 and the guideline for sentencing young people is applicable to you.  However it does not appear to me that immaturity has played a significant part in the commission of this offence.  You have been indulging in violent behaviour for some years as is evidenced by your record, and previous custodial and community disposals have not altered your pattern of behaviour. 

In my view the purpose of rehabilitation will best be served in your case by programmed intervention during your term in prison and after your release.  It is not surprising that you have been assessed as presenting a high risk of further reoffending if you do not make a concerted and considerable effort to address the circumstances in which you choose to commit criminal offences. 

You obviously need to address your abuse of alcohol and drugs, and you need to get away from the habit of carrying weapons.  Until those changes have been made you will continue to present a risk in the community.  For these reasons I consider it necessary to make provision for protection of the public after your release.

I intend therefore to impose an extended sentence which falls into two parts.  The first part is called the custodial term and it sets the period which you should spend in prison.  If you had not pled guilty when you did, I would have regarded a custodial term of ten years to be appropriate for the offence you committed.  In recognition of your guilty plea I sentence you to imprisonment for a period of six years and eight months, to be served consecutively to the sentence which you are currently serving for a domestic assault. 

The second part of the extended sentence is called the extension period, during which you will be released on licence on conditions which will be fixed at that time by the Scottish Ministers.  Should you breach those conditions or commit another offence, you may be returned to prison in respect of the current matters.  This would be over and above any punishment for a new offence.  I consider that the need to protect the public from you requires me to fix the extension period at three years. The total extended sentence that I am imposing is therefore a period of nine years and eight months.

You are now going to be away from your associates for an extended period.  You say that you want to use that period usefully.  I would encourage you to use it to draw a line under your previous tendency to resort to violence, to undertake treatment for alcohol and drug misuse, and to undertake whatever programmed treatment can be provided to you in prison and after your release."

24 June 2024