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Summaries of Court Opinions

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In certain cases the judgment reached by the court may be of public interest or have wider implications beyond the parties involved. In these cases a summary of the court’s opinion will be produced and published along with a link to the full opinion. The summary provides a short explanation of the decision, the main points that it raises and will give an indication of any further proceedings that may be required. 

You can search judgments and opinions for individual cases on the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service’s website. Please note that only in cases where there is a significant point of law or particular public interest will the opinions be published.

HMA v Steven Alexander Thain

At the High Court in Edinburgh on 5 May 2016, Lord Armstrong sentenced Steven Thain to 11 years imprisonment after the accused was convicted of the repeated rape and sexual abuse of two girls.

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

“Steven Alexander Thain, you have been convicted of eight charges, the evidence in relation to which disclosed courses of conduct systematically pursued by you against two women who during the whole periods concerned were respectively aged between seven and 15 years, and between four and 18 years. The two young women are separated in age by one year. You are some six or seven years older than them.

The charges concern lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour, rape, repeated rape, and assault with intent to rape. The women concerned gave evidence that throughout the periods when they were growing up, until they left their home, they were terrified of you and were in fear of you hitting them if they did not submit.

The charges fall into three separate and distinct periods, being 2001-2007 during which you sexually abused both girls and repeatedly and frequently raped one of them, a period in 2010 when you sexually abused one and raped both, and an occasion in 2014 when you assaulted one with intent to rape her.

I have read a victim impact statement prepared in relation to one of the women concerned.  Its content is an eloquent exposition of the devastating and lasting effect of your conduct on her life. 

I note that you have a criminal history which comprises previous convictions in relation to three charges of assault and one of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour.  I note that you have previously served a period of detention.

I have taken account of everything said on your behalf this morning, and I have also had regard to the content of the criminal justice social work report now made available to me.  I note that you are now 26 years of age and that in the first of the three periods which I have identified you were aged 12 to 18 years.

In these circumstances, I acknowledge that during the times of some of these crimes, you yourself were young and could be described as having been immature. I note that you have a good employment record.

You continue to deny your guilt of these offences, and refuse to take responsibility for what you have done. 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, although I also recognise that such an assessment is influenced by your continued denial of criminal responsibility.

These crimes of which you have been convicted are disturbing and grave.  It is the responsibility of the court to recognise that society will not tolerate such conduct, and it is important that those who might be disposed to commit such crimes against girls and young women, 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 considering sentence, I intend to deal with charges 3 and 5 separately from the other charges. These charges concern statutory offences which occurred over a relatively short timescale in 2007 and another in 2010. In respect of both of these charges, taken together, I impose on you a single cumulo sentence of imprisonment of two years.

In relation to the other charges which concern, firstly, sexual abuse over significant periods of years and, secondly, rape and assault with intent to rape, I consider it appropriate to approach the matter of sentence in this way. 

Had I been considering charges 1 and 7, the remaining charges which concern the elder girl, in isolation, then taking all relevant facts and circumstances into account, including your own age during the relevant times, but also the extent of the course of conduct concerned in relation to charge 1, I would have imposed a single cumulo sentence of a period of imprisonment of seven years. 

Had I been considering charges 8, 9, 10 and 13, the remaining charges which concern the younger girl, in isolation, then taking all relevant facts and circumstances into account, including your own age during the relevant times, and the extent of the course of conduct concerned in relation to charges 8 and 9, I would have imposed a single cumulo sentence of a period of imprisonment of nine years. 

Making those sentences consecutive, on the basis that they relate to different young women, would result in an aggregate sentence which was excessive. On the other hand, making the sentences concurrent would result in the crimes being insufficiently punished.

A single cumulo sentence, in relation to all of this second category of criminal conduct, is appropriate. Taking care to ensure that, in this regard, the sentence imposed is proportionate to the level of the criminality exhibited by your conduct, the cumulo sentence which I impose on you in respect of charges 1, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13, is one of a period of imprisonment for 11 years.

That sentence will be served concurrently with the sentence which I have imposed in respect of charges 3 and 5. The total sentence which I am imposing on you is therefore a period of imprisonment of 11 years. Both sentences will be backdated to 16 March 2016.”