HMA v Abel Muntean and Raul Covaci Novac

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, 4 July 2019, Lord Uist sentenced Abel Muntean to ten years’ detention for the abduction and rape of an 18-year-old woman, while Raul Novac was sentenced to seven years and three months’ imprisonment for the rape of the same woman and for failing to appear in court at an earlier hearing.

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

“Abel Muntean, you were convicted by the jury of shocking, predatory and outrageous criminal conduct consisting of the abduction and two rapes of the same 18-year-old woman, who was unknown to you.

“You waited in your car outside a nightclub in Kirkcaldy in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2017 as it was emptying, flashed your car lights to draw her attention to you, pretended to her that your vehicle was a taxi and you were a taxi driver and so induced her to enter your car.

“You then abducted her in the car, drove her to the Esplanade at Kirkcaldy, removed her dress and raped her while she was intoxicated with alcohol and incapable of giving or withholding consent.

“You thereafter took her to the house of your co-accused, and provided her to him so that he could rape her.

“In other words, you used her as an object for your own sexual gratification and that of your co-accused.

“As a result she has suffered permanent mental and emotional effects. Your behaviour towards her, which was obviously premeditated, can be described only as unspeakably wicked and wholly callous.

“You have continued to deny your guilt and shown no remorse. You pose a significant risk of future reoffending.

“You are now 19 years old. At the time you committed these crimes you were only 17 years old. You have never previously offended.

“I have considered the terms of the criminal justice social work report on you and all that has been said on your behalf in mitigation. I must take into account your age and lack of previous convictions when imposing sentence.

“On the other hand, the crimes of which you were convicted are of such a grave nature that a very lengthy period in custody must be the outcome in order to punish you, deter you and others from committing such crimes and protect the female public from harm from men such as you.

“On charges 1 and 2, taken together, the sentence which I impose is ten years’ detention from 27 May 2019. As a result of that sentence you now become subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.

“Raul Covaci Novac, you were convicted by the jury of raping the woman brought to you by Abel Muntean. Your commission of this offence has been described as opportunistic, but you also have continued to deny your guilt and shown no remorse.

“You are now 34 years old and have one previous conviction for road traffic offences, which I shall ignore for present purposes.

“The sentence which I impose upon you for the crime of rape in charge 2 is five years’ imprisonment from 25 October 2018. As a result of that sentence you now become subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.

“You also pleaded guilty at a preliminary hearing to failing to appear, without reasonable cause, at a hearing in this case at Glasgow High Court on 4 December 2017.

“You became a fugitive from justice and travelled to Romania and Ireland. A European arrest warrant had to be obtained for your apprehension and you had to be brought back here from Ireland.

“Your failure to appear in court not only disrupted the administration of justice and incurred considerable public expense but also significantly prolonged the time which your victim had to wait before giving evidence.

“This offence was therefore a serious one of its kind. The maximum sentence for such an offence is five years’ imprisonment.

“Had you been convicted by a jury after trial I would have imposed a sentence of three years imprisonment. As you pleaded guilty at a preliminary hearing the discounted sentence which I impose on charge 4 is two years three months imprisonment, consecutive to the sentence on charge 2.

“Your total sentence is therefore seven years three months imprisonment from 25 October 2018.

“In the case of each of you it will be a matter for the Home Secretary to decide whether you should be deported on completion of your sentences.”