HMA v Steven Haggerty

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 24 November 2016, Lord Pentland imposed an order for lifelong restriction on Steven Haggerty with a punishment part of six years after the accused was convicted of raping two women.

On sentencing, Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

Steven Haggerty, after trial the jury found you to be guilty of three extremely serious sexual offences committed against two young women.

The complainers were young women with whom you entered into sexual relationships in 2012 and late 2014. You had first got to know each of them through online dating sites and chatrooms.

After a period during which contact was restricted to online communications, you arranged to meet each of the complainers in person. Sexual relationships quickly ensued. 

The complainers said that soon after this you started to behave violently and aggressively towards them. They each described arguments in the course of which you pinned them against a wall and put your hands around their throats. 

I should mention that the two complainers were complete strangers to one another. Despite this, there was a telling and, in my view, troubling similarity between their accounts of their relationships with you. It was notable that the complainers each described a blank stare coming over you when you felt that you had been thwarted in some way.

Both complainers gave evidence that you were persistent and insistent in demanding sex from them. You would not take no for an answer. 

You raped the first complainer when she refused to have sex with you. You subjected the second complainer to a violent and depraved sexual assault in the manner described in charge 6 when she was unwilling to have sexual intercourse with you. 

After the assault the second complainer was bleeding from her vagina and was in pain. You were aware of this but nonetheless insisted on having sex with her. 

Whilst doing so you watched pornography on your mobile telephone. This incident constituted the offence of rape described in charge 7 on the indictment. 

In her victim statement the second complainer describes the continuing serious effects of your behaviour towards her.

I formed the strong impression from seeing and hearing both the complainers in the witness box that they were each vulnerable individuals.

This was particularly so in the case of the second complainer. It appears that she had been abused when she was a child. There was evidence that she suffers from low self-esteem. She is easily persuaded and intimidated. She has multiple sclerosis. 

The evidence showed that during the Christmas and New Year period in 2014 you effectively imprisoned the second complainer in your home in Blantyre. You took money from her and retained her passport.

You attempted to control and restrict her movements. The complainer only succeeded in getting away from you when her family intervened on her behalf.

Although you are only 27 years of age, you have a deplorable record of previous offending. Since 2005 you have been repeatedly convicted of a range of offences. 

I note, in particular, that you have a conviction from the High Court in March 2007 for, amongst other things, lewd and libidinous practices towards a child over the age of puberty. 

You also have a number of convictions for offences of violence and disorder. Some were subject to domestic and racial aggravations. You have been convicted of offences involving the use of weapons.

I note also that you have twice been convicted of failing to comply with the notification requirements to which you were made subject by the High Court in 2007 because of your conviction as a sex offender. 

You have served a considerable number of custodial sentences, both of detention and imprisonment. Your record discloses that you have repeatedly infringed court orders.

Community-based disposals have been attempted, but these have clearly not been successful in breaking your pattern of frequent offending.

The picture which emerges from your criminal record is of a persistent offender who has difficulty in controlling his behaviour. You have a marked propensity to resort to violence.

I now have before me comprehensive reports from two independent and accredited risk assessors. I also have a detailed criminal justice social work report. 

The risk assessors are in agreement that you present a high risk to public safety, especially to the safety of women. You have psychopathic traits in your personality which mean that you are unable to control your violent sexual urges, particularly when you are intoxicated by alcohol.

Dr Marshall noted that the following factors contribute to the risk you present to the public: complete denial of all sexual offences; little or no self-awareness of your chronic psychological problems; severe chronic alcohol dependency; callous attitude towards your victims; likely chronic sexual deviancy, extending to sadistic sexual interests; a pattern of long-term offending; and failure to engage with and respond to community risk management efforts. Dr Marshall identifies no less than 19 risk factors that he considers to be fully present.

In Dr Marshall’s opinion, the presence of such personality disorders, psychopathic traits and risk factors means that there are no effective or reliable treatments for you. You do not currently have the capacity to respond to risk management strategies.

Dr Johnstone also found evidence of a range of risk factors that are associated with serious violent and sexually violent behaviour. Unchanged and unmanaged, she considered it to be highly likely that you would go on to perpetrate serious sexual violence in the future. 

The most likely outcome would be a repeat scenario involving serious sexual and interpersonal violence towards females with whom you are in some form of intimate relationship. 

The harm would be likely to occur on a frequent basis. You would be likely to use a range of coercive techniques. 

Dr Johnstone considered you to present a high risk of causing serious and possibly lethal harm. The nature, seriousness and pattern of your behaviour indicate an enduring propensity seriously to endanger the lives or the physical well-being of the public at large.

Certain objections to the risk assessments were advanced on your behalf. I did not find any of them to be at all persuasive and I have no difficulty in rejecting them all.

On the basis of the whole spectrum of information available to me, including the circumstances disclosed at the trial, I am in no doubt that you are a violent and dangerous sexual offender. 

You have no respect for women and are prepared to resort to violence against them in order to gratify your sexual desires. You have repeatedly offended for the whole of your adult life and have shown that you are unwilling or unable to comply with orders of the court.

I accept the opinions expressed by the two assessors. I am entirely satisfied that the risk criteria are met and that an order for lifelong restriction is necessary and appropriate to protect the public from serious harm.

I shall impose such an order as a cumulative penalty in respect of the three charges of which you have been convicted on the present indictment.

The law requires me to set a minimum term of imprisonment, referred to as the punishment part of your sentence. This is the minimum period you must serve before the Parole Board can, in the future, consider your case.

Had I not been minded to make an order for lifelong restriction, I would have imposed an extended sentence on the three charges cumulatively. The custodial term of this sentence would have been 12 years and the extension period five years. The public protection element would have been met by the extension period imposed for that specific purpose.  

The result, under the applicable legislation, is that the punishment part for the purposes of the order for lifelong restriction is six years – one half of the 12-year term.

I emphasise that this is no more than a minimum period. It certainly does not signify that you are likely to be released at that stage or indeed ever. That, as I have said, will be for others to decide.

Your life sentence will be backdated to 29 May 2015 when you first appeared in court in connection with the present offences.

You will remain subject to the notification requirements applicable to sex offenders for the remainder of your life. You will never be permitted to work with vulnerable groups.

I do not propose to make any order under section 16 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 in respect of the convictions on 11 August 2014.”