HMA v Robert Russell

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Clark sentenced Robert Russell to an extended sentence of 12 years, with 9 years imprisonment, after the accused was found guilty of 11 charges of sexual abuse.

On sentencing, Lord Clark made the following statement in court:

“Robert Russell, you have been convicted of eleven charges, involving multiple forms of sexual abuse carried out by you against two adult women and two young girls, often when they were asleep.

You were convicted of indecent assault and sexual assault of a woman on various occasions over a period of more than five years. Next, in relation to a girl, you were convicted of, on various occasions, using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards her and raping her when she was aged between 12 and 14 and sexually assaulting her when she was aged 14. You were also convicted of the sexual assault of another woman and the sexual assault in various ways (including by digital penetration) and on various occasions of that woman’s daughter, when she was 14 years of age.

The victim impact statements prepared by two of your victims show that your conduct has had a serious and lasting negative effect on their lives.  

You have a history of previous offending which includes convictions for thefts and assault but you have no analogous previous convictions.

I have taken account of everything said on your behalf this morning, and I have also had regard to the contents of the Criminal Justice Social Work report now made available to me. 

I note that you continue to deny your guilt of these offences. You assert that you believe that your victims have colluded against you, but I note that, on the evidence, the two young girls did not know each other.

You are assessed as posing a significant risk of reconviction, although I also recognise that this assessment has been influenced by your continued denial of criminal responsibility.

I have already made an order that you be subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. In light of the sentence I am about to impose, that requirement will be continued for an indefinite period of time.  The clerk of court will provide you with a certified copy of the notice of the requirements with which you must comply.

I have approached the matter of sentencing in the following manner.

There is no alternative to a prison sentence in order to impose an appropriate punishment, to mark the gravity of your crimes, to seek to deter you and others from sexually abusing young girls and other women, and to protect the public from you.

If I had been considering your convictions in relation to charges 1 and 3 (which relate to the first woman) in isolation, I would have imposed on you a sentence of a period of imprisonment of 2 years in relation to charge 1, a common law charge, and a period of imprisonment of 2 years in relation to charge 3, which is a statutory charge. These two sentences would have been concurrent.

Charges 6, 7, 8 and 9 all involve a girl and form part of a single course of conduct perpetrated against her. On her evidence, she was raped by you on a very large number of occasions. If I had been considering your convictions in relation to these charges in isolation, I would have imposed on you a sentence of 2 years imprisonment in respect of charge 6, 2 years imprisonment in respect of charge 7, 6 years imprisonment in respect of charge 8 (rape at common law) and 5 years imprisonment in respect of charge 9. These sentences would have been concurrent.

Charge 14 relates to another woman. It concerns a single occasion and would have merited, on its own, six months imprisonment.

Charges 15, 18, 19 and 20 concern various forms of sexual abuse against the woman’s daughter, all in contravention of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. If I had been considering these convictions in isolation, I would have imposed a sentence of 3 years imprisonment in respect of charge 15, 2 years imprisonment in respect of charge 18, 2 years imprisonment in respect of charge 19 and 2 years imprisonment in respect of charge 20. These sentences would have been concurrent.

Those are the sentences which would have been imposed if dealing with a complainer in isolation.

Since the offences concern four different females and extend over varying periods, making the sentence for each complainer consecutive to the sentence for each other complainer would be justified. I consider, however, that to make these sentences consecutive would result in an aggregate sentence which is excessive. I intend therefore to impose a cumulo sentence which reflects the totality of the criminality concerned in respect of the charges of which you were convicted.

I am concerned to ensure that the public is adequately protected against serious harm from you when you are eventually released. For that reason, I am going to pass on you an extended sentence of 12 years, which is in two parts.

The first part of the sentence is a period of imprisonment of 9 years. But that period of imprisonment is not the end of your sentence. The second part of your sentence will be served in the community. Following your release there will be an extension period of 3 years during which you will be subject to certain conditions set by the Scottish Ministers. Breach of those conditions or the commission of further offences may see you sent back to prison to complete the remainder of your sentence.

Accordingly, in total, I sentence you to an extended sentence of 12 years comprising 9 years imprisonment, with an extension period of 3 years. The period of imprisonment will be backdated to 16 June 2016, when you were first remanded in custody in relation to these charges.”