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Young Offenders Convicted of Murder have Punishment Part of Life Sentence Reduced

(First) Keirin McMillan or Elliott; (Second) Aron McMillan; and (Third) Levi Hunter or Brown v HMA [2020] HCJAC 41

Three young offenders, Kieran McMillan or Elliott, Aron McMillan and Levi Hunter or Brown, were found guilty of assaulting Alasdair Forsyth at his home in Edinburgh, striking him with several implements, resulting in his loss of life and stealing a tablet and a mobile phone from him. Aron McMillan and Levi Hunter or Brown were also convicted of a number of assaults relating to other children.

The cause of Mr Forsyth’s death was reported as blunt force trauma to the chest with around 80 injuries being found.

The punishment part of the appellants’ sentences were 18 years for the first appellant, 17 years and 3 months for the second appellant and 17 years for the third appellant. At the time of the offence the appellants were 19, 17 and 15 respectively and all had difficult upbringings. An appeal was submitted on the basis that insufficient weighting was given to the appellants youth and backgrounds with their increased capacity to change which was weighed against the brutal nature of the murder, the appellants’ previous convictions and the fact that the robbery element with weapons was pre-planned.

On appeal, Lord Carloway concluded: “Balancing all of these factors, the court is persuaded that the trial judge has placed insufficient weight on the youth of the appellants and their backgrounds and that the punishment parts selected were accordingly excessive. This is especially so in the case of the child offenders.”

This lead the court to quash the appellants’ punishment part of their sentences and substitute sentences of 16 years for Kieran McMillan or Elliott and 13 years each for Aron McMillan and Levi Hunter or Brown.

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