HMA v DONALD STEELE

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Pentland sentenced Donald Steele to six years imprisonment after he pled guilty to the sexual abuse of two young girls.

28 June 13

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

“Donald Steele, you have pled guilty to a number of offences constituted by the serious sexual abuse of two young girls.  The complainers were aged between 9 and 12 and between 8 and 11 during the periods of time when you sexually abused them.  The agreed narrative discloses that your victims were vulnerable children.  They were living in Spain in somewhat unhappy family circumstances.  They were being bullied at school.  You befriended the girls’ mother and step-father and through them the complainers.  The picture appears to be one of sustained planning and grooming of the victims on your part.  Thus the narrative explains, for example, that you allowed them to use the swimming pool at your flat, you took them away on holidays, you gave them presents and money.  I conclude that your conduct was manipulative, scheming and devious.

Your sexual abuse of these children consisted of, amongst other things, digital vaginal penetration, inducing them to masturbate you, inducing them to give you oral sex and licking their private parts.  The abuse took place frequently. The narrative states that it became the norm in the case of the older girl.  Even when the family returned to Scotland from Spain, you re-established contact and then again abused the children.  You persuaded their mother to allow you to take them on holiday to Florida. When you were there, you sexually abused them both.

It is a troubling feature of the case that the criminal justice social work report shows you to have only limited insight into the effects of your abuse on the victims.  I note, however, from the victim impact information that they have suffered serious long term damage because of the abuse – humiliation, anger, depression, difficulties with relationships and lack of self-esteem. 

At the time of the abuse you were a mature man between the ages of 56 and 58 years.  You are now 70.

I acknowledge that you have no previous criminal convictions and have previously been of good character.

Nonetheless it is clear that the court must take a very serious view of your persistent sexual abuse of these two vulnerable children.  Society has an abhorrence of the sexual abuse of children and it is one purpose of the court’s sentence in a case such as the present to reflect that sense of revulsion.  Another purpose is to deter others who might be tempted to prey on children for the purposes of their own sexual gratification.

Had you not pled guilty shortly before the trial I would have imposed a cumulo sentence of 7 years’ imprisonment on charges 1, 2 and 4. I accept that your guilty plea had certain practical advantages, although the case would have been fully prepared by the time you decided to accept your guilt. A trial was avoided, however, with the result that the victims did not need to come to court to testify. In the circumstances, in the exercise of the discretion vested in me I shall reduce the term of imprisonment to one of 6 years.

I shall backdate that sentence to 20 September 2012 when you were first detained under the extradition procedure in relation to these matters in Thailand.

 I have already made the appropriate orders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 concerning the notification requirements with which you must now comply and under and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007; your name will be added to the list of persons deemed unsuitable to work with children.”

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