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HMA v Logan Russell


Sep 21, 2021

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Boyd sentenced Logan Russell to 42 months detention after the offender pled guilty to causing death and serious injury by driving without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road and while blood alcohol level was in excess of the permitted maximum.

On sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement:

"You have pleaded guilty to causing the death of Connor Aird and Ethan King and serious injury to Daniel Stevens by driving without due care and attention and without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road and while your blood alcohol level was in excess of the permitted maximum.

I have read all of the victim statements and they make for grim and difficult reading. One thing is clear: the impact of an event such as this has reverberations far beyond the immediate deaths. The victims are not just those who have died but those who are left to grieve and come to terms with the loss.

Nothing that I can say or do and no sentence that I can pass can possibly make up for the loss and pain which the families of the two young men who died went through and will continue to experience for a long time to come. You are the same age as the others in the car. When you have served your sentence you will have your life before you while they will not.

I suspect however that this will live with you for the rest of your life. You will have to come to terms with the fact that your decision to drive your car that morning led directly to the death of two young men on the threshold of adulthood and serious injury to a third.

When you spoke to the social worker you said that would not have driven if you thought that you were over the limit. That may be true but I regard that as a demonstration of a lack of maturity and a lack of understanding of the effects of alcohol. You should have known of the risks involved in driving a car having consumed alcohol and with limited sleep. In your case it led directly to a lack of concentration and to the accident.

The fact is that if you were going to drink you should not have taken the car. If you were going to drive you should not drink. It is a clear and simple message and what happened here should be a warning to others.

The High Court has recently approved guidance on the Sentencing Process which I shall follow although it does not formally come into effect until tomorrow. I shall also have regard to the Definitive Guideline from the Sentencing Council for England and Wales on Death by Driving. Finally, although it is only in draft form at this stage, I shall also take into account the Scottish Sentencing Council’s draft guideline on the Sentencing of Young People.

That final document emphasises two things of importance. The first is that young people of the age you were at the time of the offence are generally more immature, more likely to take risks and less likely to appreciate the consequences of their actions on others. The second important factor is the capacity of young people for rehabilitation.

The Crown have accepted that your driving did not reach the level of seriousness of dangerous and you have pleaded guilty to what may be regarded as a less serious offence.

There are however a number of aggravating factors. First and foremost there is the death of not just one but two young men as a result of your behaviour. You also caused serious injury to a third man. When your blood sample was tested you were found to be more than twice over the legal limit of blood/alcohol in Scotland.

There are also a number of mitigating factors which I take into account. The first among them is your age at the time of the offence. I am satisfied that you are genuinely remorseful. You have no previous convictions. You have a good work record and your current employment remains open to you. You have some mental health difficulties and I accept that you will find a custodial sentence difficult. It is clear that your early life was not an easy one – it is described as traumatic – but you now have a supportive family network.

The draft guideline on sentencing of young people directs the court to reach a fair and proportionate sentence. A custodial sentence should not be imposed unless I am satisfied that there is no other way of dealing with you. Mr Paterson has, in my judgement, rightly acknowledged that a custodial sentence is inevitable given the seriousness of the offence and the level of harm that flowed from it.

Had I been sentencing you as a mature adult I would have imposed a sentence of between 6 and 7 years imprisonment. Balancing all the factors in your case and in particular your youth at the time of the offence the appropriate headline sentence is one of four years. You pleaded guilty at the trial diet and accordingly I shall discount the sentence to one of 42 months detention in a young offenders’ institution. The sentence runs from today’s date.

I shall order that you will be disqualified from driving for a period of 4 years, with a 21 month extension period under section 248D of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, and that you will be required to pass the extended test before holding a licence again."