Friday, 27 April 2012

Muirhead and McKenzie Sentenced to Five Years

The High Court in Glasgow
""It is immediately obvious that we were not dealing with what would properly be thought of as acts of terrorism in any sense at all." Lord Turnbull 

At the High Court in Glasgow today Neil McKenzie and Trevor Muirhead received prison sentences after being found guilty of "Conspiracy to assault" by sending improvised explosive devices to Celtic Manager Neil Lennon, The late Paul McBride QC, Trish Godman MSP and the offices of Cairde Na hEireann in Glasgow.

Lord Turnbull handed down sentences of five years imprisonment for the above charge, with an additional sentence of 18 months for Muirhead for sending the first package to Neil Lennon (the jury acquitted McKenzie of that charge) Given time served they will both be eligible for parole in two to three years.

Both men were originally charged with conspiracy to murder aggravated by religious hatred. However the religious hatred element was dropped by the Crown just before the trial commenced and the murder charge was removed by Lord Turnbull towards the end of the case. Unsurprisingly members of the defence team were pleased with the sentence with one senior member telling me "No-one can argue with that." Reaction from other quarters has been less approving, with many people taking to Twitter to express dismay at what they consider the leniency  of the sentences.

Neil McKenzie and Trevor Muirhead

In his sentencing statement Lord Turnbull made reference to the previous good character of the two men,saying  it was "incomprehensible that two such family men would engage in such serious criminal and reckless conduct" and "I can't fathom what was in your minds at the time when you did this."

As the men offered no evidence in their defence, and did not speak in court, their motives have never been properly explored, other than a police interview with Neil McKenzie who said his co-accused had a " "pure hatred and it seems to be aimed at Neil Lennon and anything to do with Celtic Football Club." 

Police have never located where Mckenzie and Muirhead assembled the potentially explosive packages nor did they retrieve any "useful forensic material" from them. In the trial it was argued that the devices they were sending were becoming more sophisticated as time went on,  If they had not been caught, detectives are convinced they "could have killed"

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