SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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When deciding a sentence, a judge must deal with the offence that the offender has been convicted of, taking into account the unique circumstances of each particular case. The judge will carefully consider the facts that are presented to the Court by both the prosecution and by the defence.

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HMA v Graham McGill

 

May 18, 2021

At the High Court in Aberdeen, Lord Burns today sentenced Graham McGill to life imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of murder.

 

The punishment part was fixed at 14 years. That is the minimum period which the offender will serve. It will then be for the Parole Board to assess the risk he poses and decide whether or not he should be released at some point thereafter. 

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

“36 years after the death of Mary McLauglin, you have been convicted of her murder. She was 58 when she died and you were 22. You are now 59. Her family has had to wait all that time in order to discover who was responsible for that act knowing that whoever did it was probably at large in the community. They had never given up the hope that someday they would find out what had happened to her. They have been deprived of her love and companionship. 

It is due to the perseverance of police authorities, and in particular the forensic biologists, that your guilt could be demonstrated. 

The evidence showed that your chance encounter with Mary McLaughlin that night allowed you to take advantage of a vulnerable and lonely woman who was probably intoxicated. The attack took place within her own home to which she may have invited you. She was wholly unable to defend herself against any attack from someone like you. You proceeded to strangle her with a cord until she was dead. You then left her in her house. From the evidence of Susanne Russell, to which I can have regard, it may be that you made a calculated decision to kill this woman. She was eventually found by one of her sons. You continue to deny any responsibility for your actions. You therefore show no remorse for this murder.

In the light of the verdict of the jury I must sentence you to life imprisonment. I also require to fix the punishment part of that sentence which reflects the period which you will serve before being considered for release on licence. It must satisfy the requirements of retribution and deterrence, taking into account the seriousness of the offence, and your previous convictions while ignoring any period of confinement which may be necessary for the protection of the public.

Your record shows that you have been convicted of serious sexual offences in the past. You murdered Mary McLauglin when on licence after being convicted of assault with intent to rape and rape in April 1981.  Subsequent to this murder, you were convicted of assault with intent to rape in 1999 and received a Discretionary Life Sentence. The Social Work Report suggests these crimes were committed on women who you did not know and were opportunistic attacks similar to the current offence. 

You have not been convicted of any offence since your release on life licence in October 2008, a period of 12 years. I have regard to your age now and to the fact that you have been in employment in the past. 

In the light of these circumstances, I consider that the punishment part should be fixed at 14 years. That is the minimum period which you will serve. It will then be for the Parole Board to assess the risk you pose and decide whether or not you should be released at some point thereafter. 

I will backdate that sentence to 5 December 2019.”

18 May 2021