SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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HMA v Dean Wright

 

Feb 11, 2021

At the High Court in Glasgow today Lord Arthurson sentenced Dean Wright to life imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

 

Lord Arthurson set the punishment part of the sentence, which must pass before the offender can apply for release on parole, at 22 years. Whether the offender is or is not released at any time thereafter will be a matter for the Parole Board for Scotland. Even after any future release the offender will be subject to recall to prison for the rest of his life.

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

“Dean Wright, on 15 January 2021 at Glasgow High Court you were convicted unanimously by a jury on an indictment containing a charge of murder and a separate charge of attempted murder. You appear before the Court today for sentence upon that indictment.

In respect of charge one, the charge of murder, the jury concluded that, following your involvement in a nearby street confrontation with a group that did not include your victim, on 29 September 2019, in the Barrowfield estate, Glasgow, while you were under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, you got into and deliberately and at excessive speed drove a Transit van into collision on Barrowfield Street with Mr Liam Hendry, then an 18 year old pedestrian. You steered the vehicle across and onto the wrong side of the roadway, thereby inflicting upon Mr Hendry catastrophic and unsurvivable head injuries as a result of which he died. You used your vehicle as a weapon in what was on any view a brutal, unprovoked and wholly murderous attack upon your victim, who was unknown to you. Having inflicted such injuries upon him, you proceeded to drive on, execute a three-point turn, and to drive again on two further occasions at speed at Mr Hendry while he was unconscious and lying on the roadway and pavement in an attempt to drive over him. In his address to the jury, Crown counsel sought to characterise your conduct in this regard as cold-blooded and protracted, being indicative of your murderous intentions. Having heard the evidence led at your trial and in the light of the clear verdict of the jury, I agree with that assessment.

The second charge, that of attempted murder, relates to the first return attack made by you after the three-point turn, in respect of which you drove the vehicle, again at excessive speed and veering this time to the left of the carriageway, at four other pedestrians who were then on the roadway and pavement rendering assistance to Mr Hendry. They had to take evasive action to avoid being struck by the van. Fortunately, and only due to those pedestrians taking evasive action, they did not sustain injury.

Members of Mr Hendry’s family were present on each day of your trial, sitting in the courtroom with silent dignity throughout the proceedings and enduring the highly disturbing evidence which was very properly presented to the jury. I have read the extremely moving impact statements of Mr Hendry’s parents and brothers.  The effects of your criminal actions on 29 September 2019 upon your victim’s family will be profound and enduring. You have in reality visited upon that family a life sentence of grief.  

Your criminal record contains convictions for offending involving weapons, namely a baseball bat, a knife and a sword, the latter being an indictment matter which led to a sentence of 16 months imprisonment, as well as convictions for impaired driving. You were in fact subject to a period of disqualification from driving at the date of the murder.

A criminal justice social work report is also available, and I note the contrition, remorse and acceptance of responsibility for these offences as expressed by you and recorded by the author of that report, together with information provided about your family circumstances and employment history. I note in addition the author’s assessment to the effect that you present a high risk of further offending.

I have listened with considerable care to everything that has been said on your behalf by your senior counsel this morning in the course of his submissions in mitigation. I take into account all that he has said in the selection of an appropriate punishment part of your sentence on this indictment. In particular, I note again your social circumstances and your expression of remorse on this occasion through your senior counsel today.

Turning now to disposal, the penalty for the crime of murder is fixed by law and is one of life imprisonment. That therefore is the only sentence which the Court can impose upon you in respect of this indictment. As part of that sentence, however, I require to select a period which must pass before you can apply for release on parole, and that is known as the punishment part of the sentence. Whether you actually are or are not released at any time thereafter will be a matter for the Parole Board for Scotland, and of course even after any future release you will be subject to recall to prison for the rest of your life. In determining the appropriate punishment part I have had regard to the whole circumstances of your case, including in particular the gravity of the crime of murder of which you have been convicted, your criminal record, the contents of the criminal justice social work report, your personal circumstances and what has been said this morning by your senior counsel on your behalf.

I must in addition, in respect of your conviction on charge two, take into account and apply the terms of section 2 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993. Having regard to the serious nature of charge two, I intend to take that charge into account in my selection of the punishment part to be imposed in charge one. I will increase the period which I would otherwise have imposed in respect of charge one. The increase will reflect only the requirements of retribution and deterrence.

Dealing first then with charge two, you will serve a sentence of 8 years imprisonment. To be clear, that period of 8 years is not the level of enhancement to the punishment part of charge one. The punishment part of charge one will instead be enhanced by a period of 4 years to reflect the sentencing elements of retribution and deterrence. The Court also requires to have regard to the loss of the opportunity for early release that an independent sentence on charge two would have given. The sentence imposed in respect of charge two will be served by you on a concurrent basis.

On charge one the sentence imposed today is one of life imprisonment. In view of the gravity of the crime of murder libelled in that charge, the whole circumstances before the Court today and taking into account the nature and circumstances of charge two, the punishment part imposed in respect of charge one will be fixed at 22 years. Had the conviction on charge one stood alone the punishment part would have been set at 18 years.

These concurrent sentences will be backdated to 4 October 2019, being the date of your initial remand in custody in this case.

Finally, in view of the whole circumstances of this indictment, the Court today makes an order in terms of section 248 of the Road Traffic Act 1995 that you be disqualified for life from holding or obtaining a driving licence.” 

11 February 2021