A DEMENTIA sufferer was jailed for five years yesterday for crimes dating back a half a century despite being unable to understand court proceedings.
Pensioner Charles Murphy was earlier convicted following a trial of a catalogue of sex crimes and violence, including a threat to throw acid in a woman’s face.
I do not know what his position is on the verdictDonald Findlay QC
But forensic psychiatrists have now said he could not understand the sentencing process.
A judge told Murphy, 78, at the High Court in Edinburgh: “Sentencing you is a difficult matter because three forensic psychiatrists have deemed you incapable of understanding the sentencing process.”
Lady Scott said she wanted to make it clear that she could not go against the verdict returned by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year.
The judge pointed out he had been found guilty of serious, historical offences, including rape and assault.
Lady Scott said: “These are offences which require a prison sentence and ordinarily attract a very substantial prison sentence.” But the judge acknowledged Murphy was in a frail and demented condition.
The judge earlier rejected a plea in bar of sentence by Murphy’s defence counsel, Donald Findlay QC, because he was unfit for the court process.
Lady Scott said she considered Murphy’s interests were protected by his representation by senior counsel in the proceedings. Mr Findlay, who did not represent Murphy at the trial, told the court that an appeal would be brought in the case and said it was “a matter of public importance”.
He said: “There is something fundamentally wrong at the prospect of Your Ladyship addressing a man in sentence who does not have a clue what the court is talking about or why he is here.”
After the judge refused to uphold the plea not to pass sentence, Mr Findlay said: “I do not know what his position is on the verdict.
“I do not know if he wishes to acknowledge or adopt the position that he denies, in the face of the verdict, the charges involved. I have no idea if he would wish any degree of contrition or explanation to be advanced.”
The defence counsel added: “Therefore, I can in effect, because of the position that he is in, advance no plea on his behalf.”
Mr Findlay maintained that prison was not the place for Murphy and that the State Hospital at Carstairs did not want him.
Murphy, formerly of Dennistoun, in Glasgow, was earlier found guilty of a string of offences.
He was convicted or raping a woman in the back court of a tenement in the city on an occasions between January 1967 and December 1969.
He was also found guilty of indecency towards an under-age girl and an indecent assault on a man.
Murphy was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.