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HMA v Sean Orman


May 7, 2021

At the High Court in Edinburgh today Lord Beckett sentenced Sean Orman to life imprisonment, with a punishment part of 28 years, after the offender was found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

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

“You have been found guilty of murdering Bradley Welsh. For murder, the punishment is fixed by law. You will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

I must fix the punishment part, which is the period of time you will serve in prison before being considered for parole. In doing so, I must reflect the need to punish you for the crime of murder and to deter you and others from committing murder. The law requires me to ignore any risk that you may pose to the public in the future. This does not mean that you will serve just this period. It will be for the Parole Board to determine when it is safe for you to be released from prison. The question of parole cannot arise before the punishment part has passed.

I must also take account of the seriousness of the crime of murder of which you have been convicted, combined with the other offence on the indictment and your record of previous convictions. That other crime is the very serious crime of attempted murder in which you and others, masked and armed burst into a family home and set about the householder causing severe injury, heedless of the risk to life involved in striking someone on the head with a machete. It appears that you did this in return for a substantial sum of money at the behest of someone else.

You have a criminal record extending from 2006 to 2019. You have nine convictions for assault, most of them aggravated. You have appeared on indictment for crimes of violence on four occasions and of particular significance are your High Court convictions:

• In 2009 you were sentenced to 44 months detention for assault to severe injury and danger of life when on bail, aggravated by the use of a weapon.

• In 2015 you were made subject to an extended sentence of 7 years with a 5 year custodial term for three charges of assault and robbery, two of which involved a weapon, and all committed on bail.

The murder of Bradley Welsh was a pre-meditated and meticulously planned assassination the ultimate reasons for which remain unknown to the court. The degree of planning which went into this might have seen you get away with it but for the courage of the citizens of Edinburgh in coming forward to speak up about what you did.

To shoot an unarmed man as he approached his own house was a cowardly as well as a wicked thing to do. His partner and young child were inside when you ended his life, apparently in the expectation of payment. As a result of your actions, Mr Welsh lost his life in his forties and his family and friends lost him forever. I have read of the impact of all this from his partner who describes the traumatic consequences for her family of what you did and how they have lost their home and can no longer feel safe.

I have listened to your counsel’s comments, there can be no mitigation for such a dreadful crime. People who go about their daily lives in the streets of Scotland’s cities ought to be safe from conduct such as yours. The court must do all it can to deter the commission of contract killings by the imposition of severe punishment.

In this case, in addition to the features of the crime which I have described, your serious convictions for crimes of violence and your committing this wicked crime of murder whilst subject to a position of trust on licence, are materially aggravating.

For the conviction of attempted murder on charge 1 you will go to prison for 10 years from today. There is no question of backdating when you have been recalled on licence during your remand.

Having regard to the whole circumstances, the punishment part on the charge of murder will be one of 28 years, also to be served from today.

This does not mean that this is a sentence of 28 years. You are sentenced to life imprisonment and you will serve at least 28 years before you can be considered for release on parole. It will be for the Parole Board to determine when you will ultimately be released and they will consider the safety of the public in reaching that decision.

Having approached sentencing in this way, I do not intend to make an order under section 16 of the 1993 Act.”