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When deciding a sentence, a judge must deal with the offence that the offender has been convicted of, taking into account the unique circumstances of each particular case. The judge will carefully consider the facts that are presented to the Court by both the prosecution and by the defence.
Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA v David Ferguson
Aug 20, 2021
On sentencing Lord Richardson made the following statement in court:
“David Ferguson, you have been convicted, following trial, of four charges of the sexual abuse of two women.
In both cases, the abuse started when the women were children.
In the case of the first complainer, she was around 16 when you first raped her.
In the case of the second complainer, she was around 6, 7 or 8 when you first attempted to rape her.
In both cases, you subjected these women to sustained abuse. In the case of each of the women, you raped them repeatedly over a period of more than 10 years. You raped each them so often that neither of the women was able to count how many times it had happened.
In both cases, the abuse comprised the vaginal rape of both of the women. In the case of the second complainer, it also included the penetration of her mouth and anus with your penis.
It is difficult to find the words to describe the utterly appalling nature of what you have done.
It is clear from the Victim Impact statements prepared by each of the women, which I have read and very carefully considered, that your crimes have and continues to have a profound impact on these women.
Although you did not give evidence, it is apparent from the defence mounted on your behalf that, at least until the conclusion of the trial, you denied all responsibility for your actions.
Your criminal record discloses that you have 5 previous convictions for sexual offences over a period from 1973 to 2016.
Most notably, in 1985, you pled guilty to charges, on indictment, relating to the sexual abuse of one of the complainers in the present case.
Furthermore, in January 2015, you were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment following conviction for five charges involving the sexual abuse and rape of two women who were children at the time of the abuse. One of those women was the sister of the second complainer in the present case. I understand that the abuse concerned in that case took place at the same time as the offending with which I am concerned.
I have had due regard to your record in selecting the sentence for these charges.
I have also taken into account everything that has been said on your behalf by Mr Martin yesterday. I take into account your age, your mental and physical difficulties and your other personal circumstances.
I have considered the argument made on your behalf by Mr Martin that I should adjust the sentence I am imposing today to take into account the sentence imposed following your trial in the High Court in Aberdeen because the charges you faced in this trial could hypothetically have formed part of the same indictment. I am not persuaded that much assistance can be gained from this type of counter-factual reasoning.
You are now aged 67. It has been apparent to me during the course of this trial that you are not in good health. Your mobility, for example, is clearly significantly affected. As a result of that I will not be imposing an extended sentence, which would certainly have been under consideration but for your poor health.
However, a lengthy period in custody is the only appropriate sentence I can pass on you to reflect your appalling conduct. In respect of all of the charges, I sentence you to a cumulo sentence of 10 years.
This sentence is to commence from yesterday’s date.
As a result of your conviction and the sentence imposed, you are subject to the notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.”