High Court orders lifelong restriction of Falkirk man who told hospital staff he wanted to kill until he was caught

High Court orders lifelong restriction of Falkirk man who told hospital staff he wanted to kill until he was caught

The High Court of Justiciary has imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on a man who took a knife into hospital and told staff he wanted to kill people after he made an appeal against his sentence, having decided that he could meet the risk criteria under section 210E of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

Appellant Jordan Mitchell’s case first called before two judges after the sentencing judge imposed an extended sentence of 14 years but declined to impose an OLR. However, the High Court took the view that the risk criteria for an OLR might be met in the circumstances and appointed an accredited risk assessor, psychologist Dr John Marshall, to make a report.

The appeal was heard by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, along with Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews. Ogg, solicitor advocate, appeared for the appellant and Farrell, advocate depute, for the Crown.

Revenge on society

The appellant pled guilty in Falkirk Sheriff Court on 1 June 2022 to three charges arising from his attendance at Forth Valley Royal Hospital on 5 October 2021. He told the staff he had cut his left wrist area with a knife and produced said knife, thus being in possession of a lock knife in a hospital. He later told staff that he had a long-standing plan to murder people, and this was why he had purchased the knife, and would keep killing until he was arrested. The third charge arose from his assault of a mentally disturbed patient, and a further charge of breach of bail conditions arose when he continued expressing intents to go to the canal and kill people and himself.

In his report, the sentencing judge explained that the appellant had admitted killing animals from the age of 10, fire-raising and vandalism. He had a difficult childhood and said he had no friends and wanted to live alone and in isolation, also reporting historical use of illicit Valium and regular problematic use of cannabis. In a Criminal Justice Social Work Report, it was noted he identified in some respects with incel ideology and presented a high risk of further offending.

Having carried out his investigation, Dr Marshall concluded that the appellant presented a high risk, including factors related to lone actor terrorism due to his beliefs about taking revenge on society. While the appellant denied some of these factors, he was considered an unreliable informant and suffered from a rare combination of substantial autism spectrum and psychopathic traits.

It was submitted for the appellant that there was no reason to suggest he was anything more than a fantasist. The reason he had attended Forth Valley Hospital was to seek assistance for his mental health problems. The sentencing judge had imposed a carefully structured extended sentence and therapeutic work could be done within the framework of that sentence.

May never be safe

Delivering the opinion of the court, Lord Pentland began: “It is clear from the comprehensive risk assessments carried out that the appellant presents a particularly high risk to public safety. Numerous risk factors have been identified. There are very few protective factors. He has been assessed as presenting a high risk of carrying out a killing spree or mass murder and of acting as a lone terrorist.”

He explained further: “There is evidence that he took serious steps to prepare for committing such an attack. He has used violence in the past. He has fantasised over many years about committing mass murder. There is evidence that he should not be considered a fantasist and, on at least one occasion, might have been close to realising his aim. There is no prospect of his being managed safely in the community at the present time.”

Lord Pentland concluded: “The risk is such that it will not be materially mitigated by an extended sentence, particularly given that the appellant has limited capacity or motivation to comply with appropriate management. He will require close management, supervision and treatment in prison for the foreseeable future. It may never be safe to release him. The court is entirely satisfied that the risk criteria are met and that an order for lifelong restriction must be made.”

The court therefore quashed the extended sentence imposed by the sentencing judge and imposed an order for lifelong restriction, with a punishment part of 2 years before the appellant would be able to apply to the Parole Board for release on licence.

In respect of this, Lord Pentland added: “We would emphasise that the punishment part is certainly not to be taken as reflecting or implying the court’s view as to the period which the appellant should actually serve in custody. It is merely the statutory minimum period which he must serve before he can apply to the Parole Board for Scotland for release on licence. Whether and on what conditions the appellant might eventually be released after the minimum period of his sentence are matters for the Parole Board to determine.”

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