Man's conviction over rape of 13-year-old girl quashed after judge makes "factual error"

11 October 2023, 12:06

Sean Hogg had his child rape conviction quashed
Sean Hogg had his child rape conviction quashed. Picture: social media
Gina Davidson

By Gina Davidson

A man who was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old schoolgirl in a park when he was 17 has had his conviction quashed.

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Sean Hogg, 22, was convicted in April of attacking the girl twice in Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian, in 2018.

The case sparked huge controversy as new sentencing guidelines saw him given 270 hours of community service rather than prison because he was under 25. During sentencing judge Lord Lake told him that if he had committed the crime when he was over 25, he would have been jailed for four or five years.

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But his lawyers argued that Lord Lake had misdirected the jury and lodged an immediate appeal.

At an earlier hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh, the Crown Office accepted that part of the verdict should be quashed but argued the jury still had enough evidence for Mr Hogg to be convicted of raping the girl on a single occasion.

Today that was rejected and the conviction was quashed.

The Crown Office had planned to challenge Hogg’s "unduly lenient" sentence, but that will now not happen.

When the appeal was first lodged, solicitor Aamer Anwar, who represented the complainant, said his client "had told the truth".

He said: "My client in April of this year was left devastated. As far as she is concerned, she came forward. She told the truth. She spoke up. She believes the police and the jury did its duty.”

At the earlier hearing on whether an appeal could go ahead, Solicitor General Ruth Charteris KC said: "The Crown's position is clear, mistakes were made at the trial.

"The trial judge referred to distress in (one of the incidents), that was wrong."

She said there was no evidence of penetration (in that incident), and there were issues with corroboration, "a factual error on behalf of the judge", and that the Crown "sought to amend the verdict".

Ms Charteris said there were "three main issues, the decision to direct the jury on distress, an error made in directions, and also the verdict returned by the jury".

Judge Lord Matthews described some of the evidence as "worthless" and said: "There was a strong public interest in the trial being fair."

Donald Findlay KC, representing Hogg, said: "There has been a miscarriage of justice. What happened was wrong and ended up with a verdict being allowed to stand, which should not have been allowed to stand."