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HMA v Jordan Cunningham


Dec 2, 2022

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lady Drummond imposed an extended sentence of 12 years on Jordan Cunningham, after the offender pled guilty to assault, culpable homicide and attempting to pervert the course of justice. This comprises a custodial term of 9 years with an extension period of 3 years.

On sentencing, Lady Drummond made the following remarks in court:

“You pled guilty to assaulting Paul Dowds by punching him and to killing Mr Anderson and to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The circumstances were that you and Mr Anderson and your friends were involved in an ongoing feud of some sort. You along with others assaulted Mr Dowds in a common close by punching and kicking him on the body on 1 January 2022. That appears to have been the catalyst for what followed. Mr Dowds told his friends about the assault including Mr Anderson.  

The next day there was a disturbance in the morning outside your home involving Mr Anderson and his friends. Your front door was damaged and your car broken into. At some point you or your friends and Mr Anderson or his friend were in contact with one another by telephone and arranged to meet. That afternoon you got into your car with your friends and went to a car park in Broomhill Court, Greenock. Bystanders saw Mr Anderson and a friend running at full pelt towards your car.

They were in possession of knives or something similar. They looked like they were on their way to attack someone. They heard a car engine revving. You hit Mr Anderson with your car knocking him to the ground and drove over him. You then drove away in your car at speed. You later set fire to your car in an attempt to cover up your actions. Mr Anderson suffered severe injuries. In the ambulance he suffered a heart attack and died.

These offences are of the most serious nature involving the death of a young man aged 22.

Although you deny any planning it is clear that there was some planning involved.  You intended to get your own back on people who you held responsible for damage to your property. You wanted a confrontation.

You have a significant history of offending since the age of 17. Your record includes crimes of violence and possession of weapons, breaching court orders and drugs. You were imprisoned for 3 years in 2017 for offences involving a weapon. You were on 4 bail orders at the time of the current offences.

You are now 28 years old and were 27 at the time of these offences. You have previously been in employment and a good work ethic in prison. You have three children from three previous relationships. You have a partner.  

I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf. I take full account of the contents of the criminal justice and social work report and the circumstances of the offences.  You are assessed as a high risk of reoffending. You are assessed as having the potential to cause serious and significant harm to the public and significant psychological and emotional harm to others.  You have not accepted full responsibility for these offences. You have shown some remorse.

In selecting what I consider to be the appropriate sentence I take into account the terms of the Victim Impact Statements by Mr Anderson’s mother and brother. His mother explains how her world fell apart into a million pieces when she lost her son. Mr Anderson’s death has had a devastating impact upon the whole family.  No sentence can mitigate their loss.

I am satisfied that the period for which you would otherwise have been on licence would not be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from you when you are eventually released. For that reason, I am going to pass on you, in relation to your violent offending in charges 1 and 5, an extended sentence of 12 years which is in two parts. The first part of the sentence is an immediate period in custody. If you had not pled guilty, this would have been for a period of 12 years. However, because of the guilty plea, I will apply a discount to this period, which means that the custodial term will be 9 years. This custodial term will be backdated to 10 January 2022 when you were first on remand.

But this immediate period in custody is not the end of your sentence. The second part of your sentence will be served in the community. From the date of your release, you will be under licence for an extension period of 3 years. The conditions of your licence will be fixed by the Scottish Ministers. If, during this extension period, you fail to comply with the conditions of your licence, it may be revoked; and you may be returned to custody for a further period in respect of this case. The court also has power to deal with you if you commit another offence after your release and while you are on licence.

On charge 6, the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, I impose a sentence of 12 months imprisonment (3 months attributable to the breach of bail) reduced to 9 months because of the stage you pled guilty. Having regard to the totality of your sentence I will make the 9 month sentence concurrent to the extended sentence. It is a total extended sentence of 12 years to run from 10 January 2022”.