HMA v Gavin Scouler

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 1 March 2019, Lord Summers sentenced Gavin Scouler to an extended sentence of 17 years’ duration, after the accused was found guilty of multiple charges of rape and lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour. The custodial period will be 12 years, which will be followed by an extension period of five years on licence.

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

“Gavin Scoular, you have been convicted of a catalogue of offences against young girls aged between 12 and 17.

“Your offending behaviour took place over a three-year period.  You started when you were nearly 16. Your conduct was only brought to a halt after your arrest by the police in connection with other offences when you were 18.  

“All your victims were younger than you, although in some cases the age differential between you and the girl in question at the time of the offence was not a large one.  In most cases the girls in question were beneath the age of consent. 

“In most cases you coerced them into unwanted sexual activity by engaging in what is called online grooming. A striking feature of your behaviour is that you engaged in these behaviours with a large number of girls within a short time period. 

“You used social media to make contact with them and offered affection and companionship.  Some of them were vulnerable due to unhappy home lives and quickly succumbed to your advances.

“All you wanted was sexual gratification and each of these girls was discarded by you once you had used them for your own purposes. The evidence disclosed that you were not concerned about their age or maturity.

“Although many of these behaviours occurred before you came to the attention of the police in August 2013, I note that the offence libelled at charge 28 was committed when you were on bail.

“I also note that when released after a period of imprisonment you broke your licence conditions and were returned to jail. This indicates that at that stage your dealings with the courts and the criminal justice system had not deterred you from committing further offending behaviour.

“It is for these reasons I sought expert assistance in deciding whether your conduct merited an Order of Lifelong Restriction. I have had the benefit of a risk assessment report.  I requested the report because I considered that there was a risk that after serving a sentence of imprisonment you would, when released, go on to commit further sexual offences. 

“I have now had an opportunity to read the report. The author considers that you present a medium risk of reoffending.  He notes your lack of victim empathy and your failure to respond positively to your arrest and conviction for other sexual offences.

“But he also notes that you are still young and has concluded that as you mature your attitudes will improve. He also observes that there is no observable personality disorder and that psychopathic traits appear to be at a low level.  

“In these circumstances I am not satisfied that you meet the criteria for an order for lifelong restriction. The report does not suggest that  there is a likelihood that you will if at liberty seriously endanger the physical or psychological wellbeing of members of the public at large as required by s 210E of the 1995 Act.

“I intend to deal with charges 1, 2 and 3 together.  They involve a conviction of lewd and libidinous practises or behaviour under s6 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, an offence under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005 and a further offence under s6 of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995.  I propose to sentence you in respect of these three charges in cumulo to five months’ imprisonment.

“Charges 7 and 8 involved the complainer who was 12 years of age when she met the accused. You were convicted under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005 and s 20 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.

“These charges were of a minor nature and for them I sentence you in cumulo to one month’s imprisonment.  These sentences will run consecutive to those pronounced in respect of charges 1, 2 and 3.

“The complainer in charges 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 was just short of her 16th birthday when you made contact with her.  Under charge 9 you were convicted of offences under sections 31 and 34(1) of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009; under charge 10 you were convicted under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005. For these offences I sentence you in cumulo to one month’s imprisonment.

“Charges 11 and 12 are charges of statutory rape, one oral rape and the other vaginal rape. The jury unanimously convicted you of these charges which both occurred in one encounter at the Innocent Railway in Edinburgh. 

“Charge 14 is another charge of statutory rape.  This crime was committed at your home address.  Charge 15 is likewise a charge of statutory rape. It was committed in open ground near Fort Kinnaird. These two rapes occurred within a short period of time of charges 11 and 12 and I am disposed to treat them as belonging to a course of conduct.  

“For these offences I sentence you in cumulo to five years’ imprisonment. This sentence will run concurrently with the sentence for charges 9 and 10 and consecutively to the sentence for charges 7 and 8.

“Charge 16 involves offences under sections 31, 33 and 34(1) of the Sexual offences (Scotland) Act 2009. For these I sentence you to one month imprisonment.

“Charge 17 is an offence under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005. It is bound up in the facts of charge 18. Charge 18 is a statutory rape. It was a forcible oral rape.

“For charges 17 and 18 I sentence you in cumulo to four years’ imprisonment. The sentence for charge 16 will run concurrently with the sentence for charges 17 and 18. The sentence shall be consecutive to that pronounced in connection with charges 11 and 12.

“Charge 19 involves offences under section 31, 33 and 34(1) of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Charge 20 involves a breach of section 4 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Charge 22 involves an offence under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005. 

“Charges 19 20 and 22 are bound up together.  For these I sentence you in cumulo to one month imprisonment. In respect of charge 21 which was a statutory rape for which the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict, I sentence you to four years’ imprisonment. 

“The sentence for Charges 19 and 20 and 22 will run concurrently to the sentence for charge 21. These sentences shall run consecutively to those pronounced in connection with charges 16 and 17.

“Charges 23 and 24 are taken together a course of conduct by means of which the complainer was groomed for the sexual activity covered by charge 25. For charges 23 and 24 I sentence you to a period of one month imprisonment in cumulo.  These sentences shall run consecutively to those for charges 19, 20, 21 and 22.

“Charge 25 is a charge under section 28 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) act 2009 involving oral penetration. Charge 26 is an offence under sections 28 and 29 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 involving oral and vaginal penetration. Charge 27 is another charge under section 28 of the 2009 Act as is charge 28 involving both oral and vaginal penetration.

“For these crimes I sentence you in cumulo to six months’ imprisonment. I attribute one month to the bail aggravation in charge 28. The sentences for charges 23 and 24 will run concurrently to those for charges 25-28. These sentences shall run consecutively to those pronounced in relation to charges 23 and 24.

“Charges 31 and 32 are offences under section 4 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. They involve coercion and occurred when the complainer was 17 and in a vulnerable state.  For these crimes I sentence you to one month imprisonment in cumulo.

“Charge 33 is a charge of statutory rape.  It involved a degree of force.  For this I sentence you to four years’ imprisonment.

“The sentences for charges 31, and 32 will run concurrently with the sentence for charge 33.  These shall run consecutively to the sentence pronounced in relation to charges 25-28.

“The total of these sentences is 18 years’ imprisonment.

“In light of your immaturity at the time these offences were committed and your relative youthfulness at trial; in light of the fact that your offending behaviour is part of a larger course of conduct that has in part been addressed in a prior sentence; and finally in light of the principle that the total sentence should represent a just disposal, I will reduce that period of imprisonment to 12 years and shall further order that you shall be subject to a five-year extended sentence. The extension period shall therefore come into effect on the expiry of a 12-year period of imprisonment. 

“I shall order that this sentence be backdated to 7 February 2019 the date when the unexpired portion of your licence for your previous sentence came to an end.”