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HMA v Gary McInally and Stephen Owen Cairns


Aug 5, 2020

At the High Court in Glasgow today (5 August 2020), Lord Matthews sentenced Gary McInally and Stephen Owen Cairns to terms of imprisonment after the offenders pleaded guilty to forcing their way into a flat armed with knives and assaulting occupants.

On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in Court: 

“Gary McInally, you have pleaded guilty to forcing your way into a flat and attempting to murder one of the occupants, Mr Scott MacGregor, by striking him on the head and body with a knife. Mr MacGregor was severely injured. He sustained a stab wound to the left side of the scalp, which penetrated to the bone. There was a V shaped cut to his nose and his left hand sustained a number of cuts. Four fingers had tendon damage which required an operation to repair. Most seriously of all, he sustained a stab wound to the neck, which pierced the jugular vein and which needed an operation to stop the bleeding and effect a repair. Without medical treatment he would have bled to death. All of his injuries will leave scarring, particularly the neck injury. The effect on Mr MacGregor of all this, including PTSD, is set out clearly in his victim statement. As he says, he has been left not just physically but also mentally scarred. This event has been life changing for him.

Stephen Owen Cairns, you have pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr MacGregor at an earlier stage of the evening after you had come downstairs from your own flat to complain about noise coming from the flat where Mr MacGregor was. I accept that you had had problems with the owner Kieron Brown, that you had made efforts to complain to the authorities about the noise and this may have been the last straw but your complaint developed into an argument, then a fist fight, before you were ejected. While you had been injured as a result of the earlier incident, including being struck on the legs with a metal pole, you should have left well alone but instead you returned along with Mr McInally, and apparently in possession of two knives, one of which you may have given to Mr McInally. At least he obtained it somehow. The knife you were seen with was a bread knife, with a blade about 10 inches in length.

The two of you forced your way into the flat where you, Mr McInally, engaged in a violent struggle with Mr MacGregor during which you inflicted on him the serious injuries which I have described. I accept that you were hit with a bottle and sustained an injury to your left ear. The medical report I have seen provides support for that but that does not provide any form of mitigation. It does not compare with the injuries which the complainer suffered but more significantly you should not have been there in the first place. It is probably the case that alcohol clouded your judgment but that is no excuse.

You, Mr Cairns, lunged towards Mr Brown and tried to stab him. He managed to stop you by striking you on the head with a hammer but you kept hold of your knife until you were disarmed by a police officer.

The most serious injury sustained by Mr MacGregor was inflicted by you, Mr McInally, after the police had arrived and you had been told to drop the knife. It is said on your behalf that you were unaware of the police presence and that you were lashing out in a panic but it is impossible to get away from the fact that you forced your way in in the first place and brought about the situation in which you found yourself. The police had thankfully been called by a neighbour and ambulances were summoned for Mr MacGregor and you, Mr Cairns. You, Mr Cairns, were taken to the Accident and Emergency Department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary and in a disgusting show of what I can only presume to be some sort of defiance you spat on the face and upper clothing of Constable Taylor, who at that stage was trying to help you.

I have listened to what has been said on behalf of each of you and taken account of the whole circumstances as well as the contents of the reports.

Each of you has offended in the past.

 You, Mr McInally, have one conviction for assault, on 21 December 2000, for which you were imprisoned for 30 days. You also have two speeding convictions. Your record pales into insignificance compared to this offence.

You, Mr Cairns, have a conviction for assault with a piece of wood on 10 September 2003 as well as two convictions for breach of the peace on the same date. They resulted in a Community Service Order. You have a further conviction for breach of the peace in 2003 and another in 2008 along with a conviction for vandalism. On 8 August 2018 you were convicted of two charges of police assault and one of resisting, obstructing or hindering the police, for which you were eventually admonished. Once again the offences to which you have now pleaded guilty are far more serious.

I accept that you, Mr McInally, have had a number of mental health issues in the past but I have seen nothing to suggest that they played any part in this offence.

Custodial sentences are necessary in this case as punishment for these offences and to deter others from taking the law into their own hands.

Mr McInally, had you been found guilty after trial I would have imposed a sentence of imprisonment for 10 years. As it is, in view of the timing of your plea, the sentence is one of imprisonment for 7 years and 6 months to run from 8 July 2020.

Mr Cairns, had you been found guilty after trial I would have imposed a sentence of imprisonment of 3 years in cumulo on charges 3 and 4 and 16 months consecutively on charge 6. As it is, in view of the timing of your plea, the sentence is one of imprisonment for 2 years and 3 months in cumulo on charges 3 and 4 and 12 months consecutively on charge 6, a total of 3 years and 3 months. The sentences will also run from 8 July 2020.

5 August 2020