Judge says Sean Hogg, 17 when he committed the crime and now 21, would have been jailed if he had been over 25
Campaigners and politicians have expressed outrage after a man who raped a 13-year-old girl in a Scottish park when he was 17 was not given a jail sentence.
Sean Hogg, now 21, was given a 270-hour community payback order when he was sentenced at the high court in Glasgow on Monday.
The judge, Lord Lake, said he took Hogg’s age into account when sentencing him and added that if the defendant had been aged over 25 when he committed the offence he would have imposed a four- or five-year jail sentence.
Court papers state that Hogg threatened his victim on various occasions and raped her in Dalkeith Country Park in 2018.
Rape Crisis Scotland said it was an extremely serious case. In a statement the charity said: “We are shocked that the perpetrator of the rape of a 13-year-old girl has not received a custodial sentence.
“Given the gravity of this crime and the fact it was tried at the high court, this sentence appears to us to be worryingly lenient. Our thoughts are with the survivor of this crime.”
The Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson, Jamie Greene, called for a review of sentencing guidelines in Scotland.
He pointed to the Scottish Sentencing Council’s guidelines on young people, which advises against custodial sentences for those under the age of 25.
The guidance, which came into force early last year, states: “A custodial sentence should only be imposed on a young person when the court is satisfied that no other sentence is appropriate.
“If a custodial sentence is imposed on a young person, it should be shorter than that which would have been imposed on an older person for the same, or a similar, offence.”
However, final decisions are ultimately rendered by judges.
Greene said it was “outrageous and appalling that such a despicable crime” had not been punished with a prison sentence.
“The soft-touch approach to justice taken by the Scottish government is at least partially to blame in this instance.”
In a letter to the new Scottish justice secretary, Angela Constance, he said: “I implore you to order a review of these sentencing guidelines as is the Scottish minister’s right under section 7 of the 2010 act with a view to scrapping the guidelines so that rapists and other serious criminals do not avoid prison in future just because they are under 25.”
Asked about the case on a visit to Aberdeen, the new first minister, Humza Yousaf, said he understood the concerns but that it would be wrong for ministers to intervene in sentencing decisions.
He added that it was “really important that I don’t say any more because my understanding is that the crown is considering a potential appeal to that sentence”.