HMA v DARREN LEE MITCHELL

At the High Court in Dumbarton Lord Pentland imposed an order for lifelong restriction on Darren Mitchell after he pled guilty in the sheriff court to breaching the terms of two sexual offences prevention orders. The custodial part of the sentence is 20 months.

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

“Darren Lee Mitchell, you pled guilty in the Sheriff Court to an indictment containing a single charge of breaching the terms of two sexual offences prevention orders. You committed this offence just over two weeks after you had been released from detention for sexual offending against children.  Despite your young age you have a very serious record for analogous offending.  The Sheriff decided (rightly in my view) to remit your case to the High Court because he considered that the sentencing powers available to him were, in the troubling circumstances of the case, inadequate.

I now have before me an abundance of information about your background, the nature and extent of your previous offending and the undoubted risks you present to public safety, especially to the safety of children. I have, in particular, had the advantage of considering a comprehensive risk assessment report prepared by an accredited risk assessor in compliance with a risk assessment order I made at an earlier stage of the case.  The overwhelming conclusion to be drawn from all this information is that you present a high risk to public safety because of your propensity to commit sexual offences against children.  You have demonstrated that you are unable to control your deviant sexual urges.

In the circumstances, there can be no doubt that the risk criteria are met and that an order for lifelong restriction must be made.  It is clear that you are a serial sexual offender and represent a very serious danger to public safety. 

The sentence I intend to impose constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. It means that you could only be released from prison in the event that the Parole Board could be satisfied that your release would not endanger public safety. There would have to be particularly strict licence conditions, continuing risk management and close supervision of you.

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 which you must serve before the Parole Board can, in the future, even consider your case. I wish to stress that this is a minimum period and it should not be thought by you or anyone that it in any sense reflects my view of when you should be released; in the circumstances of the present case it most certainly does not do so. Under the law passed by Parliament, whether and when you may be released (after the expiry of the minimum period) is a matter, as I have said, for the Parole Board.

The maximum determinate sentence on the charge in the indictment is 5 years imprisonment. Had you been convicted after trial and if I had been considering a determinate sentence, I would have regarded the period of 4 years 6 months imprisonment as appropriate for the purposes of retribution and deterrence, having regard to the gravity of the present offence set against the background of your serious record.

As you pleaded guilty at an early stage that period falls to be discounted to 3 years and 4 months imprisonment, with the result that you would be entitled to apply for release on licence after having served 20 months in custody. It must be understood that this certainly does not mean that you are likely to be released at the end of that period: you will be released only if and when the Parole Board is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be held in prison.

I have given careful consideration to the question of whether I should make an order under section 16 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 and have taken account of the helpful submissions made by Mr Fyffe on that aspect. At the end of the day I am, however, satisfied that I would be failing in my duty if I did not make such an order in view of the gross breach of trust on your part in committing the present offence whilst on licence for an analogous offence and the importance in the public interest of enforcing the early release system. In the whole circumstances, I shall however modify the period of the order I intend to make under section 16 to one of 200 days.

The order under and in terms of section 16 will take effect from today’s date and the order for lifelong restriction will begin to run from the expiry of it”.