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HMA v Craig McCarroll


Jan 18, 2021

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Matthews sentenced Craig McCarroll to imprisonment for 8 years and 3 months after the offender pleaded guilty to the culpable homicide of Thomas Nelson.


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

“You pleaded guilty at a Preliminary Hearing to the culpable homicide of Thomas Nelson, a much loved son, brother and partner and a man who was not only your neighbour but had been your friend for many years until you fell out over matters which can only be described as trivial in the great scheme of things.

This falling-out resulted in you arranging with Mr Nelson to have a fight at a bridge. You spoke to him in a number of calls, the exact terms of your conversations being known now only to you. What is known is that in various text messages to your friends you called him derogatory names and threatened violence towards him. As it happens, Mr Nelson attended at your home in the early hours of the morning, armed with a metal pole. He appears to have run up your path but instead of staying inside you went out to meet him.

The precise order of events thereafter does not appear to be clear, but it is clear that during these events you were struck on the head a number of times, resulting in you being injured. However, you struck Mr Nelson repeatedly with a knife, causing seven wounds, one of which entered his heart and brought about his death.

This would never have happened if Mr Nelson had not come to your home. He had turned up at his brother’s house in a state of agitation about texts from you and been told to go home by his brother’s partner. She also contacted you to ask you to stop what you were doing, but you told her that it was nothing to do with her and that you were going to fight the deceased. Had you listened to her, or stayed inside then, equally, this would never have happened.

Instead Mr Nelson is now dead and you are in the High Court because you killed him.

I say killed because the Crown accept that you were provoked and that is why the charge is not one of murder.

I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf. I take full account of the contents of the report and the circumstances of the offence. You have a record including one conviction for violence but it is relatively minor.

I have also read the letter which you addressed to me setting out your remorse and your regret for what you did to Mr Nelson and the consequences for his family. I have no reason to doubt the genuineness of these sentiments.

In selecting what I consider to be the appropriate sentence I take account also of the contents of the victim statement written by Mr Nelson’s mother. It sets out clearly the effect this has had on her and the wider family. I appreciate that no sentence can ever mitigate their loss in any way.

Had the matter gone to trial I would have sentenced you to imprisonment for 11 years. As it is, in view of the timing of your plea, the sentence is one of imprisonment for 8 years and 3 months.

It will run from 15 April 2020.”

18 January 2021