HMA v Neil Addison

At Dundee Sheriff Court today, 10 September 2018, Sheriff Tom Hughes sentenced Neil Addison to four years’ imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of 14 charges of sexual assault.

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

“Neil Addison, you have been convicted of 14 charges of a contravention of section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. The jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on each charge.

“Fourteen separate complainers came into court and gave evidence that you had sexually assaulted them. All of the witnesses required special measures to assist them in giving their evidence. Some of them were distressed in having to recall your assaults on them.

“Your victims can take great pride in the fact that they gave their evidence in a dignified manner and at the end of these proceedings it must hopefully be a consolation to them to know that they had the opportunity to come to court and give their evidence before a jury.

“The jury considered that evidence and believed each and every one of them. All of the members of the jury took the same view and they returned unanimous verdicts of guilty against you. Again, is to be hoped that your victims will be able to put this experience behind them and move on with their lives.

“I take the view that there are matters of concern which arise from this case.

“You chose your victims carefully. The 14 young women who gave evidence were aged between 17 and 21.

“Like most young people, they were eager to learn to drive and wanted to pass their driving test as soon as possible. They looked to you to guide them and help them to achieve their ambition. They paid you good money to do so.

“You took advantage of each and every one of them. You assaulted them when they were in a vulnerable position, alone with you in your car. The assaults often took place whilst they were carrying out difficult and dangerous manoeuvres for learner drivers.

“The evidence would suggest that you were grooming the young women concerned. Each of them referred to the fact that for the first few lessons you were very pleasant and friendly towards them and you gained their trust and confidence.

“There was a common theme that as weeks passed you took advantage of them by placing your hand on their knee at first, and as time passed you took more and more advantage of them leading to the indecent assaults they referred to in the evidence against you.

“It is noteworthy that over time your assaults on some of your pupils escalated and your sexual offending behaviour became more serious. The evidence of the last two complainers who gave evidence demonstrated that.

“The jury heard from your last victim that you had placed your hand on her private parts, over her clothing and told her that she was a pretty girl. You placed your hand under her top and touched her breast.

“She said that you were aggressive towards her. When you saw her crying you told her not to say anything as it would affect your career. She had previously made it clear to you that she did not want you to touch her.

“After the incident she was distressed. Thankfully she saw fit to report your conduct to the police and the matter was investigated in full.

“Police officers carried out at a detailed investigation into your conduct. As a result your known offending, to date, has been brought to a halt before it escalated even further.

“The court must take a serious view of the accumulated effect of your offending. This took place between June 2014 and up to 28 August 2017 when you were reported to the police about this matter. As time passed your offending became more and more serious.

“You are guilty of a gross breach of trust placed in you by each of your victims.

“You breached the trust of the parents who recommended your services to their children. They were happy to leave their children’s safety in your care and actually encouraged them to continue to take lessons from you even though the children had expressed reservations about your conduct.

“Your colleagues must be dismayed by your conduct towards young female pupils and will obviously be of the view that this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable.

“You show no remorse for your conduct and do not acknowledge the harm you have caused your victims. In fact you told the police in your police interview that you were attracted to them.

“For all of these reasons a custodial sentence shall be inevitable, taking into account the cumulative nature of your offending over years and against so many young women.

“I have had the benefit of reading the victim impact statements, setting out details of the difficulties you caused the young women concerned. I have had the benefit of reading the terms of the criminal justice social work report and group work assessment report, which set out your background details. I have also considered the terms of the plea in mitigation made on your behalf.

“I take the view that the sentence to be imposed should reflect the harm you caused your victims.

“You knew they were in a vulnerable position, often trapped in a moving vehicle or in an isolated location. You took advantage of that and left them distressed by your actions.

“I take into account your culpability in planning these assaults; grooming your victims and breaching the trust various people have placed in you as I previously outlined. All of this is aggravated by your persistent offending and the number of your victims over a prolonged period of time.

“Although these are statutory offences I consider that it is appropriate to impose a cumulo sentence. You shall serve a sentence of four years’ imprisonment. This shall be backdated to 10 August 2018 when you were first remanded in custody in respect of this case.

“In terms of section 92 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 you have been convicted of an offence which is a sexual offence to which part 2 of that Act applies. The notification period will apply for an indefinite period, and the clerk of court will provide you with the relative notice in due course; further, I direct the clerk of court to intimate details of your conviction to the Scottish Ministers in terms of section 7 of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.”