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.
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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.
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.
HMA v Reece Sweeney
Feb 11, 2022
On sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement in Court:
“On 31 August 2020 you stabbed Jamie McGready three time on the body. One of the stab wounds penetrated his heart and as a result he died. The jury convicted you of murder. At the time you were under the influence of drink and drugs and armed with a knife. Indeed it appears you never went anywhere without a knife, on the pretence that you needed it for protection. The fact is that you were prepared to use it to kill.
At the time of his death Jamie McGready was 33 years old. He had a teenage son. He had a partner by whom he had a 2 year old girl with another child on the way. I have read the victim statement from Mr McGready’s mother and it is clear that his death has had a devastating effect on the whole family.
The social work report makes depressing reading. You left school with no qualifications. You have never had a job. You have never made anything of your life, wasting it away on drink and drugs. You have spurned all efforts to help you.
I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf. I accept that you did not set out to harm, far less kill, Mr McGready.
You describe Mr McGready, as your best pal. I have no reason to doubt it. Indeed, as I understand it he was more like a father figure to you. I accept that you very much regret your actions and are remorseful.
In reaching their verdict the jury rejected self-defence but also rejected provocation. However the evidence showed that in the hours leading up the murder you had been wound up by Mr McGready. He repeatedly called you a “shitebag”, a coward, because he believed that you had failed to support him when he was involved in a fight with other men on an earlier occasion. There was also an altercation between you and Mr McGready earlier that evening which resulted in Mr McGready getting on top of you and threatening you with a bottle. I take all these circumstances into account.
I discount your record. You were admonished on both previous occasions.
You told the social worker that you wished to make use of your time in prison by undertaking educational courses. The social worker also comments that considerable work will need to be done with you to enable you to come to terms with your crime, promote a greater sense of victim empathy, personal responsibility and consequential thinking. In my report to the parole board I will draw these matters to their attention so that they consider what progress you have made when it comes to considering release on licence.
The crime of murder carries with it a mandatory life sentence. This was a murder in which a knife was used. But I take into account the circumstances of the offence, your young age at the time and your relative lack of previous convictions. In those circumstances I will limit the punishment part to 16 years. On charge 2, I shall impose a sentence of 18 months to run concurrently. The sentence is backdated to 1 September 2020.”
11 February 2022