A judge may decide to publish a statement after passing sentence on an offender in cases where there is particular public interest; where a case has legal significance; or where providing the reasons for the decision might assist public understanding.

Please note that statements may include graphic details of offences when it is necessary to fully explain the reasons behind a sentencing decision.  

Follow us if you wish to receive alerts as soon as statements are published. 

Once charges are spent, any statement in relation to them is removed and cannot be provided or acknowledged. Statements published before the launch of the website may be available on request. Please email

The independence of the judiciary is essential to safeguard people’s rights under law - enabling judges to make decisions impartially based solely on evidence and law, without interference or influence from the government or politicians.

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.

For more information about how judges decide sentences; what sentences are available; and matters such as temporary release, see the independent Scottish Sentencing Council website.

Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.

Read more about civil judgments.

HMA v Simon Churchman


Oct 28, 2021

At the High Court sitting at Livingston, Lord Weir sentenced Simon Churchman to five years’ imprisonment after the offender pled guilty to firearms offences.


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

“On 30 august 2021, you pled guilty to a section 76 indictment containing a number of firearms offences.

At the time of these offences you had no previous convictions and you have never before served a sentence of imprisonment.

I have taken full account of the helpful submissions of Mr Moggach, on your behalf, about your individual circumstances, service and work history, and the circumstances in which he says you came to have this collection of weaponry in your possession. I have also taken into account the terms of the probation service report at least in so far as it casts light on these matters. The report also touches on, and purports to make recommendations in relation to, the circumstances of a subsequent non-analogous conviction which I have disregarded for the purposes of the sentencing exercise I now require to undertake.

All of that being said, these were and are serious offences. You had a number of air weapons, a shotgun and a bolt action rifle in your possession, all without the requisite certification. A search of your property also resulted in the recovery of the weapon referred to in charge 4, namely a sub-machine gun, which was found to have been at one time de-activated but subsequently re-activated, along with a quantity of live ammunition, a number of rounds of which were suitable for use with both the sub-machine gun and the bolt action rifle referred to in charge 6. The narrative also discloses the discovery of a number of spent shells which appeared to have been used in the sub-machine gun.

Turning to the matter of sentence I start with charge 4.  In doing so I have had particular regard to the type of weapon involved, the evidence of its re-activation and use, and the recovery of magazines and rounds of ammunition suitable for use with it. Standing your own background as an expert firearms witness, you ought to have been under no misapprehension as to the seriousness of possessing a weapon of this character. Despite the submissions made on your behalf I do not consider that there are exceptional circumstances relating to you or the offence which would justify a departure from the minimum sentence otherwise prescribed by law, and no argument was ultimately put forward that I should. Accordingly, in respect of charge 4, the sentence is one of five years’ imprisonment.

Turning to the other charges, in respect of charges 1 and 2, I sentence you to 12 months’ imprisonment, reduced from 18 months to reflect your plea of guilty.

In respect of charges 3, 6, and 8, I sentence you to 16 months’ imprisonment, reduced from 2 years to reflect your plea of guilty.

Each of these sentences will be served concurrently, and will accordingly commence from today’s date.

I have granted the crown’s motion for forfeiture of each of the weapons, and the ammunition, referred to in the charges on the indictment.”

28 October 2021