HMA v Kyle Stewart 2019

Mr Stewart, who was only nineteen years old when he was found guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court of causing serve injury by dangerous driving, has had a successful appeal against sentence. Mr Stewart argued that his two-year prison sentence was excessive due to his age at the time of the offence.

The sentence was reduced by the appeal judges at the High Court in Edinburgh to 18 months as they agreed that the Sheriff did not take into consideration the young man’s age when sentencing him. Mr Stewart had been driving on a B road at excessive speeds and was overtaking without due regard to other road users and as a result collided with a vehicle that injured a driver and a passenger in which they both had to receive urgent medical attention. The appellant’s primary argument was that a custodial sentence was not appropriate, but the High Court Judges did not agree.

Lord Turnbull concluded: “In our opinion, the offence which the appellant committed was a serious one of its type. Given our assessment of the level of culpability involved and the level of harm which resulted, the sheriff was correct to conclude that a custodial sentence was the only appropriate method of dealing with the appellant. That was the appropriate conclusion to reach despite the application of 204(2) of the 1995 Act. Were it not for the submission concerning the appellant’s age at the time when the offence committed, we would be inclined towards the view that the sentence could not be described as excessive. However, we accept the submission advanced on the appellant’s behalf that account ought to have been taken of the fact that he was a young man and was relatively immature at the time.” It was noted at no stage did the original sentencing sheriff mention the appellant’s immaturity nor age and therefore the appeal succeeded in this respect only.