A teenager who was found guilty of the murder and assault of six year old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute has had his minimum sentence reduced at the High Court in Edinburgh. Mr Campbell was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment but this was reduced on the basis that the sentence was ‘excessive’ taking his age of 16 years in to consideration.
The minimum term was reduced to 24 years by the Appeal judges. A psychologist, Dr Gary Macpherson, told the appeal court: ‘’I apologise to the court for appearing pessimistic, however, I am not confident that Aaron Campbell has the capacity or desire to change his behaviour in any meaningful way and as such the risks will remain for the foreseeable future.” The Appeal Court narrated that there was a difficulty in comparing this case to other cases and there was not much guidance in this respect.
Lord Justice Clerk said as the appeal was concluded: “In the present case, whilst we are satisfied that the trial judge was searching for this balance, we have reached the conclusion that the detailed information suggesting the extent to which the appellant is likely to present a future risk, coupled with the appalling nature of the crime and the bleak prospects for change, led the trial judge to make inadequate allowance for the mitigatory effect of youth, even in such a shocking offence as the present. Acknowledging as we have done the difficulty in comparing one case with another, from these cases it can be seen that even for an adult a punishment part of 27 years would be reserved to mark only very serious crimes. One would expect the sentence on a youth for comparable crimes to be proportionately lower.’’ Many have expressed outrage at the decision of the court however the Scottish government has stated: “A person will not be considered for parole until the punishment part of the sentence has expired.”