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HMA v Stephen Robbins


Jan 6, 2021

At the High Court in Edinburgh today Lady Scott sentenced Stephen Robbins to 20 months imprisonment after the accused pleaded guilty to culpable homicide.

On sentencing Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

“You have pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Ryan Barrie on 1 March last year.  You and your victim knew each other as you both lived locally. On 1 March after you had spent the night drinking in a bar in Dundee and you were walking home in the early hours, the deceased remonstrated with you for the noise you were making. Both of you were intoxicated and a heated exchange led to a brawl in the street with each of you throwing punches at each other. At one point you pushed Mr Barrie into a bush in the front garden whereby he fell on his back and you punched him. The deceased told you he did not want to fight. You then got up and left him. But on your way you picked up an empty wheelie bin and threw it at him. The deceased was in the process of getting up from the bush. The wheelie bin struck him and caused him to fall forward, whereby he hit his head off a wooden fence at the front of the bush.

A friend of the deceased helped Mr Barrie back into the house. He refused to get medical attention and fell asleep. A later check established he was not breathing and when an ambulance attended life support was of no avail and death was pronounced at the scene. A post mortem established an acute subdural haemorrhage (pressure from bleeding in the brain) likely to have been caused by the deceased striking his head on the wooden fence when he fell.

You did not know the consequences of your actions. When the police contacted you and you were told you were upset and you remain upset today You co-operated and told the police what had happened. Discussions regarding this plea by your defence counsel started at an early stage and prior to service of the indictment. I take into account your early offer to plead guilty.

This is a tragic case. Your actions caused the death of Mr Barrie. He was only 39 years of age. You have taken this father from his young son. He and his mother, his brother, sister and friends are left forever bereft by his loss.

On the other hand I am satisfied that your culpability in the circumstances here was low. There was no serious violence or any intent to cause any serious injury. You were in the process of leaving when you were asked to do so and you acted on impulse and recklessly when you picked up the wheelie bin and threw it towards the deceased.

I am satisfied you are appalled by the consequences of your actions and you have genuine remorse. You have convictions for assault but these are of some age and at a minor summary level. You have been on remand in prison on a charge of murder since 3 March 2020.

Mr Robbins I sentence you to 20 months imprisonment reduced from 2 years and 6 months to reflect your early plea and this sentence is backdated to 3 March 2020.”