HMA v Michael Starrs

At the High Court in Glasgow on 4 July 2016, Lady Rae imposed an extended sentence of nine years on Michael Starrs after the accused was found guilty of a catalogue of violent offences against women, including rape. The custodial part of the sentence is seven years followed by an extension period of two years on licence.

On sentencing, Lady Rae made the following statement in court:

"You have been convicted of a catalogue of violent offences against women with whom you were in a relationship. Having heard detailed evidence from these women, it is clear firstly that you believe that you are entitled to act in the way you did and secondly that you have absolutely no concern for your victims. 

The impression I formed in relation to the first complainer is that she was terrified of you but despite her fears she bravely decided to come forward and give evidence against you. You are, in my view, an arrogant and domineering man. Those qualities were displayed, not only as you gave your evidence, but they came through in the letters you wrote from prison wherein, while professing love for the complainer, you saw fit to continue to threaten her. You viewed her as some sort of chattel despite the fact that, as far as she was concerned, the relationship was at an end. You continue to deny your guilt which you are entitled so to do, but that continued denial displays a man who sees he has done no wrong, despite a verdict from a jury.

You have a very bad record of convictions disclosing 59 separate convictions with 73 separate offences, including many for violence and some involving domestic incidents. 

I have listened carefully to all that was said by your senior counsel on your behalf but whatever acknowledgment you may now have of your problems you are clearly a serious risk to any woman who enters a relationship with you and therefore meet the test of a serious risk to the public. For that reason and in view of your very extensive record of previous convictions, I intend to impose an extended sentence.

I shall deal with charges 1 and 2 as if they were part of one course of violent conduct but I must take into account a number of aggravating factors, namely, that the incidents include assaults on the complainer while she was driving a car and on one of those occasions, when she had to take evasive action, the car was carrying your baby boy. Another of the assaults was to the danger of her life.

The cumulo sentence on charges 1 and 2 will be 5 years.

In respect of charge 7 – this involved a second act of rape because you had previously raped the second complainer the year before. This charge is aggravated by the fact that you forced your way into her home and threatened her with violence before raping her. I intend therefore to impose an extended sentence of 9 years with a custodial part of 7 years.

In respect of charge 10 the sentence will be 8 months imprisonment and on charge 13 the sentence will be 12 months.

On charge 12, which relates to the earlier act of rape on the second complainer the sentence will be 6 years.

All of these sentences will run concurrently and will be backdated to 3 July 2015."