Man jailed for role in brutal Musselburgh street murder bid has prison sentence cut after appeal

A man who was jailed alongside five accomplices for a murder bid on an East Lothian street has succeeded in a bid to have his prison sentence cut.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 4:45 pm

Dillin Armstrong, 26 and his sidekicks attacked Rhys Reynolds, 26, with knives, a metal pole and a rock in Musselburgh on Hogmanay 2018.

Armstrong, of Haddington, was given a 10 year stretch in September 2019 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

However, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) referred Armstrong’s case to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

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Dillin Armstrong. Pic: Police
Dillin Armstrong. Pic: Police

The legal watchdog believed that Armstrong’s sentence was excessive given the circumstances surrounding the offence. It believed that people convicted of similar offences received lesser prison sentences.

On Thursday, appeal judges Lord Carloway, Lord Pentland and Lord Woolman cut Armstrong’s prison term to eight years.

Lord Carloway also ordered Armstrong to be supervised for a period of three years following his release from custody.

He said: “We are satisfied that sentence is excessive on the basis of comparative justice. We will issue our opinion explaining our reasons in due course.

“But the outcome of the appeal that it successful to the extent that we will substitute an extended sentence of 11 years with custodial part of eight years.”

Armstrong was convicted of the attempted murder of Mr Reynolds along with three others at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A fifth man was found guilty of assault to injury. A sixth individual had earlier pleaded guilty to the attempted murder charge.

Rhys Reynolds was repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped by the gang during the assault, on December 2018.

He suffered 36 injuries, including facial fractures and bleeding to the brain.

Last February two of the attackers had their jail terms reduced, following an earlier successful legal challenge by the three other attackers.

This left Armstrong, who was 24 years old at the time of his conviction, as the only one serving his original sentence.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission issued a statement in which it said it believed Armstrong may have fallen victim to a miscarriage of justice.

On Thursday, defence solicitor advocate John Keenan told judges that his client’s sentence should be reduced.

He added: “In my submission, the length of that custodial part can be regarded as excessive.

“It is perhaps relevant to take on board the circumstances which led to the incident escalating and the eventual assault taking place.

“It would appear that the complainer and his friends attended at the address of the appellant and they caused a disturbance there, damaged the property and that led to the pursuit of the complainer and ultimately the assault and attempted murder taking place.

“In my submission, there was some provocative behaviour on the part of the complainer.

“Of course, this was not a situation where there was provocation in the formal legal sense but it is perhaps relevant to take into consideration the circumstances which led to the incident escalating and the very serious attack taking place.”

The appeal court will issue its full reasons for reducing Armstrong’s sentence sometime in the near future.

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