SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

A judge may decide to publish a statement after passing sentence on an offender in cases where there is particular public interest; where a case has legal significance; or where providing the reasons for the decision might assist public understanding.

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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.

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HMA v Luke Clarkson

 

May 10, 2022

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Boyd sentenced Luke Clarkson to 4 years and 9 months after the offender was convicted of rape and domestic abuse.


On sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement in court:

"After trial the jury convicted you of two charges. The first was a contravention of section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Scotland Act 2018.  Over a period of about 10 months between April 2019 and January 2020 you subjected your then partner to a course of domestic abuse. The including controlling behaviour, verbal abuse and psychological and physical violence.

The second charge is the rape of your then partner aggravated by involving the abuse of your then partner. That was an anal rape in the course of an otherwise consensual sexual encounter. The complainer initially agreed to try anal intercourse but withdrew consent because of the pain. Despite that you continued to try and penetrate her anus and succeeded in doing so causing her injury. She repeatedly asked you to stop. You only did so when she eventually grabbed you by the throat.

At the time you were 6 years older than the complainer. That is quite an age difference since she was only 18 years old. You continue to deny the offences. You show little insight into their impact on the complainer and you show no remorse for your behaviour.

In considering sentence I have first to consider the harm that you caused. I have a victim statement from your victim. You did physically injure her but it is the psychological damage that is the most debilitating and long lasting. She is still affected by what happened and as I understand it may require further professional intervention in the future.

So far as culpability is concerned.

I have a report from Dr Suzanne Zeedyck, a Developmental Psychologist. She has reported on the effect of Adverse Childhood Experiences on your development. I am not going to refer to the terms of that report. I have read it in detail. It is clear that, for the reasons outlined in the report, you did suffer significant adverse childhood experiences. Dr Zeedyck concludes that in her opinion your childhood experiences have had a biological impact which have shaped the way your stress systems function.

Nevertheless as Dr Zeedyck says, “Explaining the link between the stress system and behaviour should not be regarded as a defence of behaviour.” It is “an explanation for how stress and fear affects childhood development and how it impacts adult functioning.” It is unfortunately true that many people in prison will have experienced adverse childhood experiences.

The benefit to you will be in providing a first step in recognising some of the problems that you have and hopefully seeking professional help in addressing them.

The criminal justice social work report assesses you as a medium risk of re-offending. However the author of the report says that in her opinion there is no immediate risk of you re-offending. You would benefit from programme work to reduce the risk of sexual re-offending alongside work on domestic violence. I hope that will be made available to you.

I have listened carefully to everything that your counsel has said on your behalf. I take into account your background, including your childhood experiences as outlined in the report. You appear to have a good work record and you have no precious convictions. I also take into account the fact the rape occurred in the course of otherwise consensual sexual activity.

On charge 1, I shall impose a sentence of 9 months imprisonment. On charge 2, I shall impose a sentence of 4 years imprisonment.

Where there is an aggravation under section 1 of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016, I am required to state the extent to which the sentence is increased as a result of the aggravation or to give the reasons why I decline to do so. In this case you have also been convicted of an offence under section 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act. In those circumstances I have decided not to make any specific attribution for the aggravation. I shall however order that the sentences shall run consecutively.

The sentence will be backdated to 2 March 2022.

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.

The clerk of court will serve upon you a notice confirming those requirements with which you must comply. "