Outrage as man, 21, who raped girl, 13, in park walks free from court after judge considers him too young to be jailed

4 April 2023, 06:46 | Updated: 4 April 2023, 11:52

Sean Hogg was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow
Sean Hogg was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: The Crown
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A judge has sparked outrage for considering a man too young to be jailed after he was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl in a park in Scotland.

Sean Hogg, 21, was found guilty of raping a teenage girl at Dalkeith Country Park in Midlothian, Scotland, when he was 17 years old.

Judge Lord Lake said he had to take Hogg's age into account when sentencing him, meaning he has avoided jail and will have to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work.

The sentencing has sparked outrage among those in the legal and political profession, with Rape Crisis Scotland's CEO Sandy Brindley describing the sentencing as "worryingly lenient".

Sean Hogg
Sean Hogg. Picture: The Crown

"This is an extremely serious case and we are shocked this perpetrator has not received a custodial sentence," she said.

"Given the gravity of this crime and the fact it was tried at the High Court, this sentence appears to us to be worryingly lenient.

"Our thoughts are with the survivor of this crime. For survivors of any sexual violence, it can be very difficult to see reports of convicted perpetrators walking free from court."

Sean Hogg will avoid jail after being found guilty of rape at Glasgow High Court
Sean Hogg will avoid jail after being found guilty of rape at Glasgow High Court. Picture: Google Images

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene said: "The lack of a prison sentence is a total insult to the young teenage victim in this case.

"It once again reaffirms how misguided the SNP's sentencing guidelines are in reality and how judges' hands are tied as a result."

Hogg attacked the victim, 13, on several occasions between March and June 2018, when he was 17, court documents show.

He also assaulted the teenager by threatening her and pulling down her clothing. He then grabbed her by the wrists and raped her.

Hogg has been placed under supervision and put on the sex offenders' register for three years.

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According to new guidance by the Scottish Sentencing Council - a body set up by SNP ministers in 2015 - criminals under the age of 25 are treated more leniently due to their "lower level of maturity".

Lord Lake said: "Rape is one of the most serious crimes and that is why it is tried at the High Court. Looking at the circumstances, her age and vulnerabilities are aggravating factors.

"For the level of seriousness, I have to consider your liability and have regard to your age as a factor. This offence, if committed by an adult over 25, you attract a sentence of four or five years.

"I don't consider that appropriate and don't intend to send you to prison. You are a first offender with no previous history of prison; you are 21 and were 17 at the time. Prison does not lead me to believe this will contribute to your rehabilitation."