HMA v Steven Shillan

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 3 October 2019, Lord Boyd of Duncansby sentenced Steven Shillan to an extended sentence of 8 years - of which the custodial part will be 6 years with 2 years extended - after the offender pled guilty to a violent sexual assault.

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

“In the early hours of 5 May you attacked your victim as she was walking home. You took her from behind placing an arm around her neck restricting her breathing. As she struggled for breath you punched her on the face forcing her to the ground. You then kicked her on the head and stamped on her face with such force that your footprint is clearly visible on the photographs of her face that were taken after your assault.

She tried to scream for help but you again seized her by the neck in an attempt to keep her quiet. You then lay on top of her and forced your hand down the front of her trousers and pants. As you did so you told her that you were going to rape her. Your hand made contact with her private parts but you were unable to penetrate her as she had clenched her legs together.

I am in no doubt that had your victim’s partner not arrived and forced you off her you would have persevered in your efforts to rape her. This was quite a despicable act of sexual violence perpetrated against a woman who was a complete stranger to you. When I come to sentence the protection of the public has to be uppermost in my mind.

Your victim was left with significant injuries especially to her face. More serious, however, has been the psychological damage which is outlined in her victim statement. It is to be hoped that in time these will recede but your assault upon her has significantly affected the quality of her life.     

You claim to have no memory of these events and blame your use of alcohol and Valium together with the emotional stress of having fallen out with your sister. Even if true that can only be part of the reason for what happened.

I have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf. I note your expression of remorse. I take into account that you are a first offender and I also take into account your background as described in the criminal justice social work report (CJSWR) and outlined by counsel on your behalf. I note too your willingness to engage in appropriate programmes designed to reduce the risk of re-offending. These, together with your acceptance of guilt are positive features.

The CJSWR suggests that you are a medium risk of committing a further sexual offence. But it also suggests that I should give consideration to an extended sentence. I may do that where I consider that any determinate sentence that I could pass would be inadequate for the purposes of protecting the public from serious harm.

I am satisfied that I should pass an extended sentence which will increase the amount of time that you spend in the community under supervision following your release from prison. In my opinion the circumstances of this unprovoked sexual assault on a complete stranger suggest to me that whatever may be the assessment of risk using the standard risk assessment tools you are, and may remain, a risk to the public.

It seems to me that the nature of the offence strongly suggests that you may have a deviant interest in what the CJSWR terms ‘forced sex’. It is to be hoped that this can be addressed in prison and during your time under supervision as outlined in the CJSWR.

As a result of your conviction and the sentence which I am about to impose you are subject to the notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.

The court has certified these facts and the clerk of court will serve upon you a notice confirming those requirements with which you must comply.

I shall impose an extended sentence of 8 years of which the custodial part shall be 6 years with 2 years extended. Had you been convicted after trial I would have imposed an extended sentence of 10 years of which the custodial part would have been 8 years with 2 years extended. The sentence is backdated to 10 May 2019.”