HMA v Barry Little 2018

Mr Barry Little was jailed for 22 months for throwing slabs of paving stone, culpably and recklessly, at his neighbours house and window which narrowly missed the complainers 10 year old child. However he has now had his sentence reduced following an appeal after he successfully challenged the level of discount afforded by the sentencing sheriff after his guilty plea.

Mr Little pled by s76 letter within a couple of days of his first appearance on petition, admitting his guilt. However the first instance sheriff after hearing the plea in mitigation only afforded a 25% discount in sentence when this should have been a 33% discount. The reason the first instance sheriff gave for this was the nature of the crime and the fact that a guilty plea was in fact ‘inevitable’ and therefore the discount was appropriate. However the Argument was not accepted by the appeal judges.

The period was therefore reduced by the appeal sheriffs to 20 months after it was held that the original sheriff had misdirected herself in relation to the discount that was to be given to the appellant and she did not apply correctly the authoritative guidance.

This guidance is set out by Gemmell and others v HM Advocate 2012 SCCR 176. Lord Turnbull said in conclusion: “Whilst we readily recognise that the age of the complainer in the present case constituted an aggravation of the offence, and was therefore relevant to assessment of the appropriate headline sentence, we are satisfied that the sheriff misdirected herself in taking account of that aggravating feature as a factor restricting the level of discount to be afforded.”