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HMA v Lawrence Brolly


May 25, 2022

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Boyd sentenced Lawrence Brolly to an extended sentence of eight years for assault to injury and danger of life. The sentence comprises four years in custody and four years under supervision in the community.


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

"You have been convicted of assaulting the complainer by seizing her by the hair, pushing and pulling her, placing a cushion over her face and applying pressure to it, thus restricting her breathing, and by compressing her neck and thus restricting her breathing, all to the complainer’s injury and the danger of her life.

In returning their verdict the jury deleted the attempted murder part of the charge. In doing so they accepted that you acted under provocation and must have accepted that the complainer struck the first blow. You suffered significant injuries to your head apparently as a result of being struck more than once with a glass tumbler.

It is clear however that this was not a short lived event. The evidence of the downstairs neighbours was that the altercation between you lasted for a considerable time. The estimate of two hours may be exaggerated – the other estimate of at least 40 minutes is probably more accurate – but during this time they heard banging, shouting and screaming. The banging was described as being like someone being thrown around. They heard a female screaming and shouting “let go of my hair” and then shouting for someone to call the police. The male neighbour said he was really frightened.

The complainer did in fact make two 999 calls. The jury heard these calls and it is clear that Ms Wilson was frightened and concerned for her safety. She said that you had tried to smother her and choke her. She said that she thought you were going to kill her.

The fact that you were attacked first is, of course, a significant mitigating factor. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for your reaction. The police officer who found Ms Wilson spoke of her difficulty breathing as well as her profound distress. You had every opportunity to walk away from the situation. Instead you stayed and used extreme violence against the complainer putting her life at risk.

You came to offending late in life but since 2001 you have accumulated 10 convictions. The most significant are two convictions in the High Court of Justiciary for assault to danger of life, one of which has a domestic aggravation and for which you received sentences of imprisonment of 2 years and 21 months. I am told that these sentences ran concurrently. You also have convictions for breach of the peace with a domestic aggravation.

The social work report is not favourable to you. You were unwilling to discuss your violent behaviour and the author finds that you have limited insight into your offending and emotional regulation. Alcohol abuse appears to be a significant issue for you.

It appears that apart from a niece in Ireland you are effectively estranged from your family who do not know of your conviction. You do not appear to have any support network available to you in the community. I am told that you need to engage in support to address the loss you have experienced, which is detailed in the report, and develop coping strategies.

You are assessed as being of maximum risk of re-offending, with alcohol intake being a significant factor. You have a history of non-compliance with previous community disposals and bail convictions. Most worryingly, your risk is deemed unmanageable in the community.

I have listened carefully to all that has been said on your behalf. You are 67 years of age. You have had, and continue to experience, heath issues. I accept that despite your convictions in the High Court your record is not the worst. I take into account the fact that the jury accepted that you were provoked.

Given the provocation and the injuries that you suffered, I shall limit the custodial part of the sentence of imprisonment I might otherwise have imposed. Nevertheless, I am satisfied on the basis of the report and your previous convictions that you pose a threat to the public and that the sentence that I can impose is not sufficient for the protection of the public. Accordingly, I intend to provide for a lengthy period of post custodial supervision in the community.

I shall impose an extended sentence of 8 years, of which 4 years shall be the custodial part, with 4 years extended.

The sentence shall be backdated to 6 January 2021."