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Excessive and Erroneous Sentences Reduced Following High Court Appeal

HMA v Mark Simpson and Lee Wallace 2018

Mr Simpson and Mr Wallace pled guilty to supplying heroin and cocaine at a Trial Diet at the High Court in Aberdeen in November 2017. The value of the drugs was in excess of £100,000. However, both men appealed their sentence on the grounds it was excessive and also erroneous. They have both had their sentences reduced on appeal following a ruling at the High Court.

Mr Simpson and Mr Wallace were sentenced to eight-and-a-half and six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment respectively for the Class A drugs related offences a year of which was attributed to the aggregation that they were involved in organised crime. However respectively they have now had their sentences reduced to seven-and-a-half and five-and-a-half years as the Appeal Court ruled that adding on a year for this aggravation was a case of “double counting.” The appeal court agreed with the appellants’ argument that the circumstances which gave rise to the aggravation were the same circumstances which constituted the crimes and therefore they should not be given extra time for the aggravation.

The 2010 Act does require the sentencing judge to consider the aggravation but explicitly states there are circumstances where imposing an additional penalty will be inappropriate (Section 29 of 2010 Act). The Appeal Court allowed the appeal stating there is no requirement to increase the sentence based on the aggravation when such factors have already been taken in to consideration.

Lord Menzies stated in conclusion of the Appeal: “It is clear from his careful report to us that the trial judge took into account all of these factors when determining what sentence should be imposed on each of the appellants for the substantive offences to which they had pled guilty, namely seven-and-a-half years in respect of Mark Simpson and five-and-a-half years in respect of Lee Wallace.” It was therefore not necessary to increase the sentence and this would have been a case of double counting. The sentence was therefore quashed and reduced by one year for both appellants.

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