HMA v Stuart Young

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Judge Paul Arthurson, QC, imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Stuart Young with a punishment part of eight years imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of raping two young children and sexually assaulting a third.

On sentencing, Judge Arthurson made the following statement in court:

“Stuart Young, I have carefully read the criminal justice social work report and the risk assessment report and supplementary letter by the risk assessor, all made available to the court in your case.  I have also now heard the evidence in person of the risk assessor herself. I have considered everything that was said on your behalf by Mr Paterson at the conclusion of your trial on 30 April and at the adjourned diet on 28 May. I have also listened with the same care to all that Mr Paterson has said on your behalf today. He made it clear, at the conclusion of the evidence of the risk assessor, that he accepted on your behalf that all sentencing options remain available to this court. Having considered her evidence, and the submissions of Mr Paterson and the advocate depute for the Crown, I have concluded that the objections lodged on your behalf are without foundation insofar as the assessor has properly based her assessment of overall risk upon the charges which were held to be established by the jury in this case, and that her report complies fully with all necessary statutory requirements. 

I have taken into account your limited record of previous convictions. You have served only one short custodial sentence. You have no previous convictions at indictment level. 

On 30 April at the conclusion of your trial at Edinburgh High Court you were unanimously convicted by a jury of three extremely serious sexual offences against young children. The evidence against you was substantial, compelling and highly disturbing. In particular you were convicted, first, of the repeated rape and sexual assault between 2008 and 2013 of a female child between the ages of six months and five years with whom you were in a relationship of trust; second, of the sexual assault and sexual assault by penetration in July 2013 of a nine year old female child and, third, of the repeated rape between April and July 2013 of a male child between the ages of one day and three months. 

These offences can be described as a course of conduct comprising depraved and despicable offending. You are a serial sexual predator who presents an ongoing risk to children in the community. Your abuse of these children, particularly those children referred to in charges 1 and 3 on the indictment, represents an appalling breach of trust by you. In the case of your victim in charge 1, you raped her repeatedly throughout her pre-school years for your own gratification. Please be clear that in convicting you of these offences, the jury have recognised that you have violated these children in an unimaginable manner. It is to the great credit of your victims in charges 1 and 2 that they found the courage to disclose your offending clearly and in a way which was ultimately heard by the jury. I have no doubt that your conduct has had profound and enduring effects on all of your victims and their extended families and that these effects will follow them for the rest of their lives. 

The detailed risk assessment report of 19 September 2015, which I have considered along with the assessor’s evidence, confirms that you have shown no remorse. You meet the criteria for dissocial personality disorder. The risk assessor considers further that this disorder co-exists with psychopathic personality traits, and in particular observes that you are highly manipulative, callous and lack empathy. The assessor also notes that you have an interest in being sadistic to your victims and concludes that you present a high risk of future sexual violence to young children. The assessor has invited the court to consider whether the particular repeated sexual violence perpetrated by you on children from at or near the time of their birth places you, in all the circumstances pertaining to your case, in that category of exceptional offenders for whom an Order for Lifelong Restriction is the only appropriate disposal.

I have considered Mr Paterson’s submissions on these matters with care, and indeed all of his helpful observations on the terms of the reports and evidence heard at your trial. I have also had regard to the approach to this area of sentencing set out by the Appeal Court in Ferguson v HMA 2014 SCCR 244. I am satisfied, having done so, and having regard to the circumstances of the offences before the court and the terms of the criminal justice social work report and risk assessment report, that, on a balance of probabilities, the risk criteria set out in section 210E of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 are met and that you do indeed fit within the category of exceptional offender which I have just mentioned.  Standing the nature of the offences of which you have been found guilty on this indictment, I have concluded that there is a pattern of behaviour available for consideration by the court which demonstrates that there is a likelihood, that is to say a probability, that if at liberty you will seriously endanger the physical or psychological wellbeing of members of the public at large, in your case referring in particular to young children in the community. 

The risk assessment report indeed makes it plain that you have demonstrated an enduring propensity seriously to endanger the public which is such that you present a high risk. It is concerning to note from the report that in the opinion of its author, which she reiterated in her evidence this morning, successful treatment will be difficult in your case. Your anti‑social behaviour and attitudes are described as entrenched. In all the circumstances I anticipate that there will be an ongoing requirement that you be closely supervised, restricted and monitored when you are eventually at liberty. In any event, I have concluded that if an Order for Lifelong Restriction were not made by this court, you would seriously endanger the physical and psychological wellbeing of members of the public at large, as I have described, once at liberty, and that of course this risk would be even worse if you were at any stage in the future to cease to be subject to licence conditions. 

Accordingly, on charges 1, 2 and 3 on the indictment, I am making an Order for Lifelong Restriction in respect of you. That Order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to be released on licence. The calculation of the punishment part is a course laid down by Parliament which I am bound to follow. Had I not been imposing an Order for Lifelong Restriction, the custodial term of the sentence which I would have imposed on these charges would have been 20 years. In fixing the punishment part of your sentence I am required to ignore any period of confinement which may be necessary for the protection of the public and to determine the part of that period of imprisonment which would represent an appropriate period to satisfy the sentencing requirements of retribution and deterrence. In that regard, I consider that the appropriate period would be 16 years. Having carried out this exercise, I will follow the normal approach adopted in such disposals and reduce that period by one half in order to take account of the effects of early release. The punishment part of the Order for Lifelong Restriction which I am imposing on you today will accordingly be 8 years. This punishment part will be backdated to 30 April 2015, being the date of your remand in custody following upon your conviction. 

Please be clear about this, however. The sentence imposed by the court today is not a sentence of 8 years imprisonment. It is instead an Order for Lifelong Restriction which is, as I have already observed, a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. You will not be eligible to apply for parole until the punishment part has concluded. You must not assume that you will be released from custody at the end of that period. You will be released only when it is considered no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison. When you are released – if indeed you are ever released – is in law a matter for the Parole Board for Scotland. 

Finally, as a result of this sentence you now become subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.”