HMA v RONALD JOHN SMITH

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Pentland sentenced Ronald Smith to nine years in prison after he was convicted of the sexual abuse of two children.

On sentencing Lord Pentland made the following statement in court:

“Ronald John Smith, the jury convicted you after trial of a number of serious offences of sexually abusing two children in the 1970s.  The abuse extended to penetrative sex, anal in the case of the first complainer and vaginal in the case of the second.  Your first victim, who was a number of years younger than you, admired you and looked up to you, but you took advantage of him for the purposes of your own sexual gratification.  Your second victim whose care you were in part responsible for was highly vulnerable.  You grossly abused the trust placed in you by raping her several times when her mother was out of the house. 

It was clear from the evidence given by the two complainers and from the victim impact information provided by the second complainer that they have each suffered greatly due to the lasting psychological damage you caused them.  It is no exaggeration to say that what you did to each of them has cast a long dark shadow over their lives for many years.  You must have thought, as the years went by, that your abusive conduct would never be uncovered, but due to the courage of the complainers in coming forward and giving evidence in court, you have now at last been brought to justice. 

I take account of the fact that you have no criminal record that and that you have been of good character since the commission of the present offences.  I accept that you do not present any significant risk to public safety.  You are now 71 years of age.

Nonetheless it is clear that the court must take a very serious view of these offences.  It is important to note that there were two victims (one of whom was highly vulnerable), that the abuse was penetrative, that the victims were children at the time and that it involved in each case a serious breach of trust.  You have expressed no remorse or empathy for your victims.  Society has an abhorrence of the sexual abuse of children and it is part of the responsibility of the court to reflect that in its sentencing policy.  You must be punished for what you did.  And others who might be tempted to take advantage of children for their own sexual gratification must understand that they will be severely punished when brought before the courts. 

In the whole circumstances, you will go to prison for a period of 9 years.  This is a cumulo sentence imposed in respect of the 4 charges on the indictment.  The sentence will be backdated to 27 June 2014 when you were first remanded in custody.

You will remain subject to the notification requirements applicable to sex offenders for the rest of your life.  Your name has been added to the list of persons deemed unsuitable to work with children and other vulnerable individuals”.