HMA v Weir McKay 2020

The Appeal Court in Edinburgh has quashed a culpable homicide conviction and replaced it with one of assault. Mr McKay was convicted by culpable homicide alongside his co accuse who was convicted of murder. The appellant was sentenced after trial to 14 years. 

The appellant argued however his conviction was unsafe as contradicted the direction that were given by the judge at trial. The appellant argued that there was no evidence that could be proven that the injuries case by the appellant had led to the victims death. During the trial it suggested that the co-accused carried the attack on the woman who died. 

The judge in his charge was clear that the jury would have to be satisfied that the appellant did something that caused the death of the victim or there was a substantial contribution to the death of the woman. Lord Turnbull concluded the appeal and stated: ”It is clear from the trial judge’s charge that the Crown case against the appellant was presented on the sole basis that he had associated himself with everything that his co-accused had done to the deceased in the course of the whole attack on her.

The trial judge summarised the Crown case against the appellant as being that he ‘associated himself with whatever was going on’. The jury evidently did not accept this approach to the case. The judge continued: “When the exercise of stripping out the blunt force injures for which Doherty alone was responsible is contemplated it becomes even clearer, in our opinion, that any link between the injuries for which the appellant was held responsible and the death of the victim becomes entirely speculative. In these circumstances we are persuaded that the submissions for the appellant should be given effect to.” The conviction was therefore quashed and replaced with an assault.  The sentencing for the assault is still awaited.