HMA v Ralston Vint Graham

At Dumfries Sheriff Court on 7 October 2015, Sheriff Jamieson sentenced Ralston Vint Graham to 12 months imprisonment after the accused was convicted of sexual offences against two girls.

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

“Mr Graham, after trial the jury found you guilty of two serious offences involving lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards two young girls. These offences were committed by you many years ago, when you were a much younger man. The first offence occurred between 1977 and 1978. Your victim was then aged between 9 and 10. You took advantage of your position as family friend to sexually abuse her in her bedroom. Even after all these years she recollected these events in a manner which spoke of the extreme sense of fear, hurt and distress she experienced as a result of your conduct towards her. The second offence occurred between 1988 and 1990 and involved prolonged sexual abuse of a young girl. She was then between 4 and seven years. She too has suffered dreadfully as a result of your abuse. The effect of your conduct on both victims has been profound and has extended into their adulthood.

I have paid careful attention to the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report and Psychological Assessment. The CJSWR confirms a community sentence is available to the court. I have taken fully into account what has so ably been said on your behalf today by your solicitor. You are a man with a good work ethic. You worked hard for your employer all your days. You also had your own business. You have been married to your wife for 55 years. Both of you have health problems. I have been made fully aware of these in the course of the proceedings in this case. You have no previous criminal record. You are your wife’s primary carer.

There is no punishment I can impose which fully reflects the horror experienced by the victims of your offending. I cannot restore the lost innocence of their childhood. But I can mark these offences by the imposition of a custodial sentence.

In my opinion, that is the only appropriate sentence which sufficiently marks the seriousness of these offences. It reflects society’s condemnation of those who sexually abuse children in the manner you have been convicted of and it acts as a warning to others not to engage in similar conduct. The aim of such a sentence is to contribute to the protection of children in our society.

I have also considered, in selecting a custodial sentence, that you put the victims to the ordeal of giving evidence at your trial. You do not accept the jury’s verdict. I see limited scope for a community sentence.

However, in passing a custodial sentence upon you today, I believe that the length of that sentence should be no more than is necessary to reflect society’s condemnation of your conduct towards your victims. You are now 72. You have made a positive contribution to society in other ways throughout your life. You are the primary carer for your wife of 55 years. You have your own significant health difficulties. In my opinion, these considerations are all relevant in determining the length of that sentence.

For these reasons I have determined that in relation to each of charges 2 and 3 you will be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of twelve months. These sentences will run concurrently from today’s date. As a result of this sentence you will be subject to the registration provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for a period of ten years."