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HMA v Lee Johnston


Oct 12, 2022

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Judge Alistair Watson sentenced Lee Johnston to an Order for Lifelong Restriction after he was convicted of the rape and sexual assault of young children and taking and sharing indecent photographs of children. The punishment part of the sentence, the minimum period spent in prison before becoming eligible for parole, was set at five years.


On sentencing, Judge Watson said:

"Lee Johnston, you were convicted by the jury at Glasgow High Court on 24 March this year in respect of all 13 charges –charges which spanned a period of 8 years and involved the abuse of 5 different young children.  The abuse occurred in a variety of settings and in different circumstances, although a common feature of your crimes was you engineering a situation in which you persuaded the parents of the children to place their trust in you before you then abused that trust in the most heinous way. 

The crimes themselves range from the taking and sharing of indecent photographs of children, to the rapes and other physical sexual abuse of young children. In addition, you were found guilty of failing to attend at the High Court of Justiciary to face justice for these matters and of breaching the conditions of bail which applied to you before you were later remanded in custody.

Your persistent course of abuse of children involved, on occasion, conduct of a degrading nature.  It is self-evident that the psychological harm to certain of your victims is bound to be very significant and long-lasting. It is clear that you have a deviant infatuation with young children and have shown an uninhibited willingness to deprave and corrupt.  In addition, you have, throughout proceedings, maintained a position of complete denial, showing no empathy, no remorse, no contrition and indeed no insight in relation to this course of criminal conduct carried out over a number of years.

Having regard to the nature of these convictions, I considered that the risk criteria might be met in your case and called for a risk assessment report. That report is now available, as is a further report from a second psychologist. The writers of both reports assess you as presenting a high risk or very high risk of sexual reconviction. The reports identify you as posing a high risk towards children in particular.

The reports make clear that the almost continuous nature of your offending, the lack of protective factors and abrogation of responsibility, as well as the nature and seriousness of your crimes, is demonstrative of an enduring propensity to seriously endanger the lives or physical or psychological well-being of the public at large.

Having considered all the information before me, including the plea in mitigation made by Mr Crowe on your behalf, I am satisfied that the risk criteria set out in section 210E of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 have been met.

I therefore make an order for your lifelong restriction in respect of all charges of which you were convicted. That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period.

I must also fix the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to the Parole Board for Scotland to be released on licence. Had I been imposing a fixed sentence on the charges, taken together, I would have imposed a sentence of 12 years imprisonment with such extension as may have been necessary for public protection post-release. Applying the appropriate formula, your punishment falls to be fixed as 6 years.  You did however spend approximately one year in custody from the end of November 2019 before later being released on bail for a time.  This ought to be reflected in the sentence and I therefore modify the punishment part to 5 years to take account of this. Further the date from which the punishment part will run is 1 March 2022, the date you were again remanded in custody.

Be clear, the sentence imposed is not a sentence of imprisonment of 5 years. It is an order for your lifelong restriction which is a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period. The punishment part represents only the number of years which must pass before you are first eligible to make an application for parole. It does not follow however that you will then be released. You will be released from prison only at such a time as the Parole Board for Scotland considers it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be held in prison.

In addition, as a result of the sentence imposed you now also become subject, on the sexual offences charges, to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.  You will remain subject to those notification requirements indefinitely."