Leading barrister labels judge's decision 'bold' as rapist, 21, walks free

4 April 2023, 16:58 | Updated: 4 April 2023, 17:50

Sean Hogg was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow.
Sean Hogg was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: The Crown Prosecution Service

By Grace Parsons

Leading KC Thomas Leonard Ross has said a judge made a "bold" decision, after a 21-year-old rapist avoids jail.

Leading KC Thomas Leonard Ross, who specialises in serious crime, told Tom Swarbrick that Judge Lord Lake made a "bold" decision in letting a 21-year-old man who raped a 13-year-old girl walk free.

Sean Hogg 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.

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

Mr Leonard Ross told Tom: "The judge was open enough to say that had he not been so young the sentence would've been four or five years imprisonment, which is the normal sentence for rape in Scotland so it's a big drop from four years detention to community service."

"It's no exaggeration to say it's extraordinary and it wasn't the effect that we expected the sentencing guideline to have," acknowledged the leading KC.

Mr Leonard Ross continued: "He's [Judge Lord Lake] a very well-respected judge, but he is only one judge, there are 32 full time judges... and it's unlikely that many of them would've been bold enough to attract the opprobrium that this judge has by selecting this sentence."

Tom counteracted: "Interesting use of the word bold there, I think people could insert other words - idiotic, thoughtless?"

"You're asking me for my judgement and what I say is that it might be many things... but it certainly is bold because by selecting it he has brought himself under quite a great deal of criticism, which he could've avoided by imposing a sentence of three years," the barrister responded.

READ MORE: Met police officer guilty of raping woman and accessing his victim's restricted crime report

"I don't think the sentencing guidelines are wrong... if he [Sean Hogg] did something that was more predictable then the case would've passed off without any comment. The Crown do have the right to appeal against the sentence so this may not necessarily be the end of the road so far as this young gentlemen's concerned," the leading KC said.

"To be honest, it never occurred to me that it was possible for this young person to avoid detention," admitted Mr Leonard Ross.

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