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28th Apr 2023

Prosecutors to appeal against sentence on rapist deemed ‘too young’ for jail

Steve Hopkins

A campaign group said the sentence had ‘effectively decriminalised rape’

A convicted rapist who walked free from court due to his age sparking a torrent of outrage could be jailed after a decision to appeal the “unduly lenient” sentence.

Sean Hogg, now 21, was 17 when he forced himself on a 13-year-old girl in Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian in 2018.

He was convicted on March 7 at the High Court in Glasgow, but on April 3 a judge spared him jail due to his age at the time the crime was committed.

Hogg, from Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, was ordered to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work and was also put under supervision and added to the sex offenders register for three years.

The sentence provoked outrage with campaign group Speak Out Survivors saying Scotland had “effectively decriminalised rape”.

The Lord Advocate, Scotland’s top law official, decided the Crown should appeal the sentence on the grounds it is “unduly lenient”.

Deputy Crown Agent for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Kenny Donnelly said: “Sentence is quite rightly the domain of the independent judiciary. “However, the law provides for some limited circumstances in which prosecutors have the right to appeal against sentences.

“The Appeal Court has set a high test to be satisfied for this to happen.

“The sentence must be unduly lenient, which means that it must be outwith the range of sentences which the sentencing judge, taking account of all relevant factors, could reasonably have imposed.

“The question of Crown appeal against sentence in this case has been carefully considered, and the decision to place this matter before the Appeal Court has been communicated to the complainer through her representative.”

New guidelines for sentencing under 25s were introduced in Scotland in January 2022 and make rehabilitation rather than punishment a primary focus. They also recommend an individual approach.

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