HMA v JOHN SHORT

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Armstrong sentenced John Short to 12 years imprisonment after he was convicted of the sexual abuse of three girls.

On sentencing Lord Armstrong made the following statement in court:

“John Short, you have been convicted of five charges which involve the calculating, manipulative and predatory sexual abuse of three young girls in relation to whom you were in a clear position of trust.  At the relevant times, these girls were aged respectively 10-15 years, about 9 years, and between 8-11 years. The conduct in respect of which you have been convicted extended from the mid-1980s to 2001 and includes indecent behaviour, lewd and libidinous practices, forced oral sex, digital vaginal penetration and serial rape.

I have read victim impact statements prepared in relation to two of the women concerned.  The lasting effect of your conduct on them may be incalculable.  In relation to one of them it would appear that what you did has had a devastating impact not just on her teenage years but on her whole life since.

I have taken account of everything said on your behalf, and I have also had regard to the content of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report now made available to me.   I note that one of the risk assessment models included in that report assesses you as presenting with a profile which suggests a high risk of re-offending given your lack of any remorse, refusal to take responsibility for what you have done and your apparent hostility towards the victims of your crimes .  However I also acknowledge that these crimes, having occurred more than 10 years ago, are now historic, and that apart from one minor conviction, you have since had no significant criminal history and have a good work record.

These crimes of which you have been convicted are disturbing and grave.  Society has an abhorrence of such conduct and it is the responsibility of the court to reflect that.  It is important that those who might be disposed to commit crimes of sexual abuse against children, in the way that you did, understand that they are likely to receive significant custodial penalties once brought to justice.

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.

In relation to charges 1 & 3, I take these two charges together and impose on you a cumulo sentence of 10 years imprisonment.  In relation to charge 2, a statutory charge, having regard to the age of the girl at the time, the nature of the acts concerned and the persistence of your conduct, I sentence you to 2 years imprisonment, that being the maximum disposal available to me. In relation to charge 4, I sentence you to a period of imprisonment of 1 year.  In relation to these four charges you will serve the sentences I have imposed concurrently. In relation to charge 7, I sentence you to a period of imprisonment of 2 years.  I consider the circumstances of that charge to be separate and distinct from the other charges. That being so, I order that you serve the period of 2 years I have imposed in respect of it, consecutively to the sentences in respect of the other charges.  Accordingly, in total, I sentence you in total to 12 years imprisonment. That sentence will be backdated to 23 September 2013 when you were first detained in custody in relation to these charges”.