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Man With 34 Previous Convictions Granted Appeal After Assaulting Friend And Ex-Partner

Colin Marshall who was convicted of assaulting his friend and ex-partner and of attempted murder of the former has had his sentence reduced by 3 years on appeal at the High Court of Justiciary. 

Mr Marshall was sentenced by the sheriff at trial to 18 years’ imprisonment with a custodial part of 12 years and a 6-year extension period. It was argued that due to the severity of his previous convictions the sentence he received was excessive. The first and third charges were for assault and attempted murder of his friend, Calvin Whorlow. The charges involved the repeated punching of Mr Whorlow and a knife wound to the neck. The second charge, the assault of his then-partner, involved repeated punches to the head and body. 

The neck wounds inflicted on Mr Whorlow resulted in a 2.5cm laceration that was closed with a steristrip. He was found by police officers in the common close of the appellant’s flat and was bleeding unconscious. The evidence suggested that if he had not been found at that time it is likely he would not have survived.

It was considered that the appellant had 34 previous convictions from the period of 2002 to 2020, 10 of which were assault offences. In addition, he had been previously convicted of assault to injury and robbery as well as assault to injury and assault causing bodily harm. He had served custodial sentences with the longest being for 18 months. 

As a result, a Criminal Justice Social Work Report was prepared which stated that the appellant was at a high risk of reoffending. At trial the judge determined that it was necessary to impose an extended sentence, with the 18-year period given due to the gravity of the attempted murder conviction and the appellant’s previous record and high risk of reoffending. The appellant submitted that the sentence imposed was more appropriate to cases where the injury had resulted in danger to life. In this case the injury sustained was relatively minor. In addition to this, the appellant’s previous convictions had not been from the High Court. 

Lord Doherty in delivering the opinion of the court stated: “We emphasise that any attack on the neck with a knife requires to be viewed very seriously indeed. The attack here was wickedly reckless and the jury concluded that it was of a murderous nature. However, we accept that, fortunately, the laceration’s consequences appear to have been relatively minor.” 

He continued: “Although the appellant has a lengthy record the attempted murder offence is very much graver than any crime of which he has previously been convicted. We recognise too that the author of the CJSWR saw at least some indications that the appellant may have some insight into his offending and that he may be amenable to working towards reducing the very high risk which he currently represents.” 

In concluding Lord Dohery stated: “We are in no doubt that the gravity of the offence of attempted murder, the appellant’s record, and the risk of further offending all point to the need for a substantial extended sentence. However, we are satisfied that when due account is taken of the other factors which we have outlined it is evident that the totality of the extended sentence which the trial judge imposed is excessive.” 

As a result, the appeal was allowed. The appellant’s original sentence was substituted for an extended sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, with a custodial part of 10 years and an extension period of five years.

 

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