Child sex offender who walked free from court is given jail sentence following appeal from prosecutors

A convicted child sex offender who walked free from court will now face jail following an appeal from prosecutors.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 12:30 pm

The man, who can not be named for legal reasons, admitted sexually abusing a ten-year-old girl when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court previously.

He also pleaded guilty to sending sexual texts and WhatsApp messages to a child repeatedly stating he would like to kiss and touch her, asked her to send photographs and made reference to her being his girlfriend.

But he avoided a custodial sentence and was placed on a community payback order and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for three years, despite the court being told he had previous convictions of a similar nature.

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The case was heard previously at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The Crown Office appealed the sentence on the grounds it was too lenient and appeal judges have now decided to quash the original sentence and replace it with a one year jail term.

A written opinion published a senior judge said hat he recognised the sheriff was faced with a difficult task of balancing whether the purpose of rehabilitation outweighed the purpose of a custodial sentence, and that the sheriff was not assisted by the approach taken in the social work report - but they were unable to agree with the original sentence.

The report said: “The sentence contained no punitive element; it contained no real element of deterrence; and it seriously underestimated the gravity of the present offences (particularly the extensive grooming), against the background of the respondent’s closely analogous record of prior offending.

“In these circumstances, we are satisfied that the case was one in which the custody threshold was clearly passed. We are satisfied that the sentence was unduly lenient.

“We shall quash the sentence imposed by the sheriff and in its place substitute a sentence of 12 months imprisonment (reduced from 18 months because of the guilty plea). The respondent will remain subject to the notification requirements applicable to sex offenders for a period of ten years.”

The convicted sex offender had previous convictions, two of which were similar in offending nature and involved children.

The author of the social work report considered all of his offences to be serious but observed “significant gaps” in his offending which they said indicated he could put strategies in place to limit the risk he can cause to children. Their report said if he was given the chance to attend a treatment programme, this would lower the risk of future offending and he was suitable for a community payback order and treatment plan.

The appeal judges said too much weight was given to the length of time since his previous offending and not enough emphasis was placed on the nature of that previous offending.

The judges also stressed that the clear aim underlying the grooming was to enable the sex offender to gain access to the child in private with the intention of sexually abusing her, which could be inferred from some of the text messages he sent her.

Their report also referred to a text sent from him to the child which said “I’ll go to jail if you tell,” which showed he knew full well what he was doing and that this was wrong.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “We note the decision of the appeal court.”

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