HMA v Scott Roger

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (26 May 2020) Lord Beckett imposed an extended sentence of 18 years with a custodial term of 8 years on Scott Roger after he pleaded guilty to assault.

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

“I have taken account of the contents of the social work report and the risk assessment report. I have taken account of everything said in mitigation on your behalf. You will be given credit for pleading guilty when you did. I recognise that you have not committed a crime like this before. I sentence you on the basis of the crime which you pled guilty to after amendment.  I note that the risk assessor Dr Lundie considered that you showed some genuine remorse, but it is somewhat undermined in my view by your accompanying denial of conduct to which you have pled guilty and your tendency to seek to shift blame to the complainer.

This was a crime of extraordinary cruelty persisted in over a significant duration for which you and you alone are responsible. You sought to humiliate, intimidate and physically hurt the complainer over a number of hours, having armed yourself with a knife in advance.  Your behaviour was at times sadistic and it was all calculated to humiliate and terrorise the complainer who considered that you were torturing her. It was plainly motivated by sexual jealousy. The whole episode was appalling from start to finish.

You strangled the complainer on a number of occasions which was an obviously dangerous thing to do. You knew that she was pregnant and repeatedly kicked her in the stomach saying you would, “kick it out of her.” You presented a knife at her and cut her clothing. You threatened to stab her. You told her that you would cut the baby out of her whilst holding the knife near to her vagina. Such was her ordeal that she felt you would kill her and she wanted you to do it rather than prolong the situation. You demonstrated your cruelty and your determination to exercise control by telling her that, she would die when you were ready for her to die. When the situation neared its end, you threatened that if she told her father you would stab her. You told her that if she phoned the police you would spend every day of your sentence planning what you would do to her on your release. You said you had people who knew where she stayed.

All of this caused injury which was prolonged in its effect and painful and your conduct has had a serious impact on the complainer’s way of life more generally.

Such extreme and sustained conduct would signal real danger to the public even if carried out by a first offender but you have quite a serious criminal record for crimes of violence and carrying weapons. Following a sentence of detention of 5 years for assault to the danger of life in 2006, you have served a number of further prison sentences and the reporting social worker noted that this has had no deterrent effect. It is not without significance that in 2011 you were sentenced to 2 years for involvement in supplying drugs, namely cocaine. One of your convictions for assault occurred in the domestic context. In 2017 on sheriff court indictment you were sentenced to 18 months for having a knife in a public place.

In these circumstances it is necessary to impose substantial punishment on you; to seek to deter you and others from behaving in this way, and to protect the public from you.

The assessment of the reporting social worker is that you present a high risk of causing serious harm if at liberty. The risk assessor considers you to present a medium risk.

I am concerned about how the public generally, any future intimate partner and particularly the complainer and her family can best be protected from serious harm from you.  I am not satisfied that the normal period of licence would be sufficient to protect the public from serious harm from you. Whilst I have given prolonged, careful and anxious consideration to the imposition of an order for lifelong restriction, in light of the terms of the risk assessment report and noting particularly that you seem to be capable of responding to treatment and willing to undertake it, I will impose an extended sentence.

The starting point is an extended sentence of 20 years with a 10 year custodial term which includes 1 year for the domestic aggravation. Since you pled guilty when you did, sentence is reduced to an extended sentence of 18 years with a custodial term of 8 years and an extension period of 10 years when you will be under licence on conditions fixed by the Scottish Ministers.

If during this extension period you fail to comply with the conditions of your licence it may be revoked by the Scottish Ministers and you may be returned to custody for a further period. Sentence is backdated to 12 April 2019 when you were remanded in custody.

I consider it to be both appropriate and necessary to make a non-harassment order for an indeterminate period with the following conditions to protect the complainer from harassment and misconduct from you:

•           You must not approach, contact, communicate and you must not attempt to approach, contact or communicate with [the complainer].

•           You must not post:

any message that makes mention of [the complainer] by name;

or any image of [the complainer],

on any online public forum or social networking site.

•           You must not enter [an address]

Your plea of guilty removed reference to the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 and I recognise that. Notwithstanding that your intentions may have been substantially motivated by causing fear and pain, this does not necessarily exclude that there was a significant sexual aspect to your behaviour in committing the offence.

I note that in assaulting her you cut the complainer’s bra strap and pulled off her top; you ripped off her shorts; you touched her vagina; you forced her to bend over and repeatedly struck her bare bottom with a sex toy.

Your conduct was motivated by sexual jealousy, you displayed sexual cruelty and carried out assaults which were intended as sexual humiliation and punishment. Such behaviours towards a former partner are of a kind from which the public requires to be protected every bit as much as conduct carried out for reasons of sexual gratification.

I consider that whilst you may have had a number of motivations and intentions, there was nevertheless a significant sexual aspect to your behaviour in committing the offence.  I certify that you have been convicted of an offence with a significant sexual aspect bringing it within the scope of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. You are accordingly liable to notification requirements and for an indefinite period.”