HMA v Alasdair Graeme McDonald

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 10 April 2018, Lord Arthurson imposed an extended sentence of 13 years (custodial part 10 years) on Alasdair McDonald after the accused was convicted of rape. On sentencing Lord Arthurson made the following statement in court:

“Alasdair Graeme McDonald, on 12 March 2018 at Glasgow High Court you were convicted by a jury of a single charge of rape to injury, contrary to section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. This crime took place within the public park area of Union Terrace Gardens in the city centre of Aberdeen during the early hours of 28 January 2016.

Your victim was a 21 year old university student who was entirely unknown to you. You had, on your own account of events to social workers, been viewing pornography within a flat and then proceeded into the city centre. You saw your victim walking alone and followed her along a street and down into the public gardens area below street level. As your victim was seated on a bench texting her flatmate, you seized hold of her neck from behind, placed your hand over her mouth and dragged her across the ground towards an area of bushes and trees. You forcibly removed her lower clothing, repeatedly struck her on the head, seized hold of her neck and head and restricted her breathing. You then restrained her and assaulted and repeatedly raped her with considerable ferocity. Your victim did not see your face, your clothing or anything of you. To her you were a faceless, violent and predatory rapist. Indeed, such was the ferocity of your attack that the forensic physician who gave evidence at your trial advised the jury that one of the internal injuries which you inflicted upon your victim represented the most serious injury of its type which he had seen throughout all of his years of medical practice.

Your criminal record is relatively limited and comprises five groups of convictions, dating from 1996 to 2014. Only one of these was at indictment level, and it was that conviction which led to your only custodial sentence to date. Your offending history is in my view not relevant therefore in any material sense to the sentencing exercise which the Court is concerned with today.

A criminal justice social work report including a risk assessment has been made available for this hearing. The authors of this report conclude that while there is in your case a low reconviction risk in respect of non-sexual violent offending, you present a high risk of reconviction for sexual offending and a risk of sexual harm to women.

I have also had the opportunity to consider a victim impact statement in this case. It is plain to me that your crime, which upon your conviction I described to you as abhorrent, has had a profound and traumatic impact upon your victim. As she has expressed matters herself: ‘The crime has scared me to my very core….I think about what happened that night every single day and the individual who did this to me has left me with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and emptiness.’

I have listened carefully this morning to the submissions in mitigation advanced on your behalf by your counsel, and take into account everything that has been said by him in imposing sentence upon you.

You will well appreciate, however, that such is the gravity of the offence before the Court today, there is no alternative to the imposition of a very substantial custodial disposal in your case. On the basis of the evidence led before the jury and the material contained in the report before me, I have concluded without difficulty that you represent a high risk of causing serious sexual harm from which it is necessary to protect the public. In my view, the normal period of licence would not be sufficient to protect the public from the risk which you present on your release from custody.

In these circumstances, I am therefore imposing an extended sentence today, which is in two parts. The first part is a custodial part, namely a sentence of imprisonment. That will be followed by an extension period in the community when you will remain under licence and under supervision. The conditions of your licence will be fixed by Scottish Ministers. If, during this extension period, you fail to comply with the conditions of your licence, it may be revoked by Scottish Ministers and you may be returned to custody for a further period in respect of this indictment. The Court also has power to deal with you if you commit another offence after your release and while you are on licence.

I accordingly now impose upon you an extended sentence of 13 years duration, with a custodial part of 10 years imprisonment and an extension period of 3 years. This sentence is backdated to 26 September 2017, being the date of your first remand in custody in respect of this matter.

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

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