HMA v Jennifer Maguire and David Harper

At Hamilton Sheriff Court on 11 August 2015, Sheriff Daniel Kelly QC imposed extended sentences on Jennifer Maguire and David Harper after they pleaded guilty to offences relating to the sharing of indecent images of children.

On sentencing, Sheriff Kelly made the following statement in court:

“In 2009 whilst in a brief relationship you David Harper and A, a colleague at the bank where you worked, sent each other intimate photographs of yourselves. After that relationship ended you were in a relationship with her friend B, another colleague. Then in October 2013 you texted A asking her to send you further photographs of her breasts, threatening to tell B and A’s partner if she refused. You contacted her through social networking sites and on the internal bank email system asking for further such photographs, threatening to put the images which you held of her on the internet if she refused. As a result of this A, afraid of your threats and extremely upset, told her family and partner and contacted the police.

This was to prove instrumental in leading to the detection of the remaining charges. Following A’s complaint the bank instigated an investigation of your internal emails, David Harper, which revealed email conversation between you and Jennifer Maguire, who also worked at the bank, discussing a child named E in a sexual manner.

In police interviews during a subsequent investigation you Jennifer Maguire have explained how both of you became involved sexually at lunchtimes when the bank branch was closed and that when David Harper asked you for images of your breasts you sent photos to him. In due course you David Harper asked Jennifer Maguire to handle and touch E while taking photographs of this.

E was sexually assaulted by you Jennifer Maguire over an 18 month period in 2012 and 2013 when she was aged one and two. You Jennifer Maguire recorded yourself handling and rubbing her, sometimes with cream. Your explanation that on one occasion you simply made it look as if you had digitally penetrated E but had only been bending your finger over her is now accepted by the Crown. Nonetheless, it is a disturbing image to have filmed. Still and moving images were taken and you Jennifer Maguire sent these images on to David Harper.

You David Harper downloaded these and other indecent images of children. You had about 10,000 of them on your laptop and mobile phone. Some were duplicates but about 7,500 were unique. While most were at level 1, some were at levels 2, 3 and 4. Of the still images 234 are of E, with over 100 being unique. 19 were at level 3 and focussed on intimate areas, with an adult hand touching her. In some images E’s face is clearly seen. There were also 20 videos, with 16 at level 1 and the others at levels 2 and 3. Three of them are of E, of which two are at level 3. One shows E on her back, where her face is briefly visible, and two show an adult hand rubbing her. Some images had been deleted.

It is disputed between you that you David Harper put pressure on you Jennifer Maguire by threatening to put naked images of her on the internet. That is not an issue that I can or need resolve. However, it is clear to me that you David Harper have been the instigator of what occurred. Just as you pestered A to send you photographs, so you had Jennifer Maguire send you images first of herself and then of E.

I must have regard to the seriousness of the offences, particularly where one was against a very young child, of a repeated nature and over a considerable period. There may well be long-term consequences for E if she finds out when she is older what happened to her, in which case the psychological effects upon her could be profound.

In view of the gravity of the offences only custodial sentences are appropriate. You are entitled to some discount for your guilty pleas, though the utilitarian value in respect of charges 2, 5 and 7 is limited since mainly professional witnesses would have spoken to the images. Your plea Jennifer Maguire was tendered after several continuations at a First Diet whereas your plea David Harper was later, at the Trial Diet which followed numerous continued First Diets.

In each case the need for an extended sentence has been identified in the background reports in order to protect the public from serious harm. I do view you David Harper as a risk to others, particularly to children and to women. The social workers who compiled the report have found your insight into your behaviour to be limited and have assessed that you present a significant risk of sexual harm to both adults and children. You have been assessed as requiring a significant period of supervision in order to mitigate, manage and reduce the risk of further sexual offending. You Jennifer Maguire are assessed as at medium risk of reoffending and have been found to  have limited insight into your actions.

On Charge 1 David Harper, for threatening to publish intimate photographs of A, I shall impose a sentence of five months’ imprisonment, reduced from one of six months to reflect the guilty plea.

On Charge 2, involving the sexual assault of E, I take the same starting point for each of you, treating you as equally blameworthy. You David Harper initiated matters, which were for your ultimate gratification. You Jennifer Maguire were the one who carried out the actual assaults and ought to have been looking out for E’s best interests, not treating her in this way. While at first reticent as to your involvement, by November 2013 you were more forthcoming and, once your plea was tendered, you provided a detailed account and were prepared to give evidence against David Harper.

You have shown considerable remorse. However, you still do not accept responsibility for what you have done, blaming threats from David Harper, saying that no harm had been done to E and claiming that you had been stopping David Harper abusing any other adult or child.

In your case David Harper I will impose a sentence of six years and six months of which the custodial period is three years and six months and the extended period is three years, to run consecutively with the sentence on Charge 1. In your case Jennifer Maguire I will impose a sentence of four years of which the custodial period is three years and the extended period is one year. In each case the time in custody is reduced from one of four years to reflect the guilty pleas.

You Jennifer Maguire also face Charge 5 which involved sending the images to David Harper. As this was related to the circumstances in Charge 2 and having regard to the length of sentence already imposed on that charge I will impose a concurrent sentence of four years of which the custodial period is three years and the extended period is one year. Again, the time in custody is reduced from one of four years to reflect the guilty plea.

While Charge 7 overlaps to an extent with the abuse which gave rise to the taking of the photographs and videos of E, you David Harper had a substantial number of further indecent images of children. I shall, therefore impose on this charge a sentence of seven years and one month of which the custodial period is four years and one month and the extended period is three years, to run consecutively with the sentence on Charge 1 and concurrently with the sentence imposed on Charge 2. The custodial period is reduced from one of four years and six months to reflect the guilty plea.

You Jennifer Maguire will therefore be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with an extended period of one year and you David Harper to four years and six months’ imprisonment, with an extended period of three years. These will take effect from 18 June 2015, when you were remanded in custody. You will each be subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period and I will instruct the Sheriff Clerk to refer you to the Scottish Ministers to consider inclusion in the list of persons unsuitable to work with children.”