The full sentencing statement delivered to Steven Donaldson’s killers by Lord Pentland in Edinburgh High Court this morning has been issued through the Judiciary of Scotland.
Murderers Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson were given life sentences with minimum terms of 23 and 24 years respectively for the “savage and depraved” brutality which ended the life of the Arbroath man.
Mr Donaldson’s former girlfriend Tasmin Glass – who was convicted of culpable homicide after luring him to a Kirriemuir playpark on a warm night a year ago next week – was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In passing sentence, trial judge Lord Pentland said: “Steven Alexander Dickie, Callum Davidson, and Tasmin Glass, the victim impact information describes the lasting devastation that each of you has caused to the parents, sisters and other family of Mr Steven Donaldson.
“He was a loved and admired young man; he had established a successful career; he had a wide circle of friends; he had many years of life to look forward to.
“The wickedness of your crimes caused shock and outrage in the Angus area. No sentence that I can impose will repair the grievous hurt and loss that you have each caused by taking the life of this young man.
“Steven Alexander Dickie and Callum Davidson, the punishment for the crime of murder, of which you have both been convicted by the jury, is fixed by law. I sentence each of you to imprisonment for life for that offence.
“I am required also, by law, to set the minimum period that each of you must serve before the Parole Board for Scotland may consider the possibility of release on licence. In fixing this period, referred to as the punishment part of your life sentences, I must reflect the need for punishment and deterrence; in this context the law requires me to leave out of account the risk that you may present to public safety in the future.
“This period should not, therefore, be understood as representing the number of years that you will actually spend in custody. The sentence of the court is one that will endure for the remainder of your lives.
“It will be for others to decide whether and on what terms, after the expiry of the punishment part, it would be consistent with the protection of public safety for you to be released on licence.
“In setting the punishment part for each of you, I take account of a number of seriously aggravating factors.
“First, you used extreme violence in the attack on Mr Donaldson.
“Second, you armed yourselves with a variety of weapons, including a baseball bat, a knife or knives and, it can be inferred, another weapon in the nature of a cleaver or axe.
“Third, the violence was sustained and prolonged. You carried out the attacks in two different locations.
“Initially, you overpowered Mr Donaldson at the Peter Pan Play Park; you then abducted him in his vehicle to the car park at the Kinnordy Loch Nature Reserve. There you renewed your assaults on him with unrestrained ferocity.
“He tried to escape and to defend himself, but you cut him down without mercy, severing his spinal cord in two places with a deadly weapon. You then left his body next to his car, which you set alight.
“Fourth, in assessing the gravity of your criminality, it is important also to bear in mind that Mr Donaldson had done neither of you any harm whatsoever.
“He had come to Kirriemuir that evening to meet Tasmin Glass in order to discuss their relationship and to try to address certain aspects of it. At her request and instigation you readily agreed to attack him.
“You quickly formulated a plan to assault Mr Donaldson when he was with Tasmin Glass at the play park; you carried out the plan with ruthless determination.
“That is the fifth aggravating feature: your planning and premeditation.
“Taking all these factors into account, it is my view that the level of your culpability is at the high end of the spectrum. Accordingly, the public interest demands that you be severely punished.
“It is necessary also that a clear signal is given that the use of weapons for violent purposes will be met with heavy custodial sentences.
“I must also take account of your previous records of offending. These show that you both have a propensity to resort to violence.
“Over and above the circumstances of the murderous attack on Mr Donaldson, there was evidence at the trial that you are each willing to deploy violence and threats to achieve your aims and to settle your perceived grievances.
“You Davidson have a somewhat more serious record of previous offending than your co-accused; in particular, I note that you were convicted in 2017 of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement and were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
“Finally, I take account of the information in the criminal justice social work reports. Neither of you has evinced any genuine remorse, empathy or insight into your crimes.
“I note that in your case Davidson the author of the report recorded that you showed a callous disregard for Mr Donaldson’s family.
“What I am left with is a clear picture demonstrating that you are both cold-blooded, violent and unrepentant murderers.
“In your case Davidson the punishment part will be 24 years.
“In your case Dickie, taking account of your somewhat less serious record of previous offending, the punishment part will be 23 years.
“The sentences of life imprisonment will be backdated to 18 June 2018.
“Tasmin Glass, the jury convicted you of culpable homicide; that is a less serious crime than murder, but in the circumstances of the present case it was nonetheless a very serious offence.
“In assessing your level of culpability, there are a number of factors that I must take into account.
“In the first place, it is clear from the evidence that you instigated the attack on Mr Donaldson.
“By June of 2018 you had tired of your relationship with him. You had become sexually involved with Steven Dickie; you owed Mr Donaldson money; and you were stringing him along. It no longer suited you to be his partner.
“Secondly, there was clear evidence of planning and deliberation on your part. The evidence showed that you resolved to enlist your two co-accused in a plan to attack Mr Donaldson.
“Thirdly, you knew that Dickie and Davidson had obtained weapons in the course of the evening; you drove them to an area near to the play park where you had arranged to meet Mr Donaldson.
“You had led Mr Donaldson to believe that you were meeting him to discuss the future of the relationship, but in truth your plan was for your two co-accused to set upon him so that you could get him out of your life.
“You must have anticipated that the weapons would be used against Mr Donaldson. Through your duplicity Dickie and Davidson were able to take Mr Donaldson by surprise.
“With chilling coolness, you then drove home and carried on as normal in front of your parents. In the ensuing days you maintained that front.
“I conclude that without your influence the fatal attack on Mr Donaldson would not have occurred. You have demonstrated that you are manipulative and devious when it comes to advancing your own interests.
“I take account of the fact that you were 19 years of age at the material time and of your lack of previous record.
“The sentence of the court in your case will be one of detention for 10 years.
“Your sentence will be backdated to 3 May 2019. In selecting your sentence, I have taken account of the period you spent on remand in 2018.”