Man jailed for role in brutal Musselburgh street murder bid has sentence referred to High Court on appeal

A man who was jailed for ten years for his part in a Hogmanay street murder bid in Musselburgh has had his sentence referred to the High Court on appeal.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 5:03 pm

Dillin Armstrong was found guilty along with three others at the High Court in Edinburgh of the attempted murder of Rhys Reynolds after a trial in August 2019. The jury found a fifth accused not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of assault to injury. A sixth individual pleaded guilty to the attempted murder charge in May 2019 at the High Court in Glasgow.

The gang - aged in their late teens and early 20s - attacked Mr Reynolds with knives, a metal pole and a rock or slab on December 31, 2018. He was also repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped following a chase from a flat where had been a disturbance involving the victim.

Mr Reynolds suffered 36 injuries, including facial fractures and bleeding to the brain during the attack in Delta Drive.

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Dillin Armstrong. Pic: Police/JPI

But Armstrong’s five co-accused have since had their sentences quashed on appeal and substituted with reduced sentences.

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (the Commission) has now referred Armstrong’s sentence - a ten year custodial term and three year extension period - to the High Court of Justiciary.

A statement released on Friday said the Commission concluded the principle of comparative justice was breached in this case. It said: “The Commission was satisfied that, had the applicant’s appeal been heard alongside the appeals of his co-offenders, the applicant’s sentence would have been reduced to some extent, to reflect the reduced sentences that his co-offenders received on appeal.

“Accordingly, the Commission believes there may have been a miscarriage of justice in the applicant’s sentence. The Commission also believes it is in the interests of justice that the case be referred to the High Court for determination.”

A statement of reasons for the Commission’s decision has also been sent to the applicant, High Court, Lord Advocate and Crown Office.

‘Vicious assault’

The gang were originally sentenced to a total of 47 years at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2019 after the trial judge, Gordon Liddle, condemned the “cowardly and vicious assault” which was captured on camera.

Dillin Armstrong and Aaron Thomson were each jailed for ten years, while Dean Riding and Kane Reilly were each sentenced to eight years. Thomson and Riding had their sentences cut to six and five years respectively on appeal and Reilly’s sentence was reduced to six years.

Another boy, who could not be named at the time because he was under 18, was sentenced to seven years detention. His sentence was cut to five years.

The other accused, Jayson Dodds, was acquitted of attempted murder but found guilty of assault to injury and sentenced to four years’ detention. But this was overturned and he was given a community payback order.

Their young ages, difficult childhood experiences and that they had taken advantage of rehabilitation while in custody were all arguments used by lawyers to appeal against their initial sentences.

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