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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 Ross Cummins
Jan 25, 2023
On sentencing, Lord Arthurson said:
"Ross Cummins, on 2 December 2022 at Edinburgh High Court you were convicted by a jury of two charges of rape, one charge of rape to injury and one charge of assault to injury in respect of one adult female, and two charges of rape and one charge of assault to injury in respect of a young girl then between 4 and 8 years of age. You were in a position of trust in respect of that child. Your sexual offending against your adult victim involved biting and strangling, and involved on the occasion libelled in charge 5 the tying up by you of your victim. Your violent conduct towards her further included the brandishing of knives. Your sexual offending against your child victim involved significantly deviant conduct on your part, and your violent conduct towards her included stamping on her head, striking her with a pole and forcing her to eat food from the floor. These offences, committed by you against your victims over a sustained period, can on any view be described as truly despicable crimes of violence and sexual violence.
You are now aged 36. You have already received 32 custodial sentences and been convicted 9 times on indictment at sheriff and jury level, and twice in the High Court, principally for crimes of violence. Your High Court convictions, dated 2015 and 2017, related to charges of assault and robbery with weapons. You received an extended sentence in respect of your most recent High Court conviction and you have been recalled to custody in terms of your licence under that disposal, with an earliest date of liberation of 2 February 2024.
I have listened to the submissions in mitigation advanced on your behalf by your senior counsel, and in particular I note what has been said concerning your right to continue to deny these offences; the different context of your prior largely acquisitive and drug-related offending history; and the desirability of selecting a determinate sentence in your case, bearing in mind the nature of the sentence which you are currently serving.
A criminal justice social work report and risk assessment have been prepared for this morning’s sentencing hearing. This report makes for grim reading. One risk assessment tool places you within the high category of sexual reoffending risk. Another places you in the very high category of risk of violent reconviction. You are assessed as posing a high risk of further intimate partner violence towards future or ex-partners when at liberty. The author of the report characterises this risk as being likely to be of a serious and chronic nature with a notable sexual dimension. The author observes that there has been a consistent pattern of escalating seriousness in your offending, and that the offences in the present case present a further diversity and escalation in seriousness in your offending. You present a significant risk of serious harm to women and to certain children. The author advises that an extended period of post-custodial supervision will be necessary in your case.
Turning to disposal, it is plain from the gravity of the offending before the Court that only a very substantial custodial sentence is appropriate. On the basis of the available risk assessment material, and having regard to your criminal antecedents and the nature of your crimes in this case, it is further clear that the normal period of licence would not be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from you when you are in due course released. I propose therefore to impose upon you today an extended sentence. This sentence will be in two parts. The first part will be custodial. The second part will take the form of an extension period when you will be under supervision while on licence in the community. The conditions of your licence will be set by Scottish Ministers. If you fail to comply with these licence conditions during the extension period your licence will be revoked and you may be returned to custody for a further period in respect of this indictment. The Court also has power to deal with you if you commit a further offence after your release from the custodial part of this sentence and while you are on licence and under supervision.
For approximately two years you subjected a woman and a young child to abhorrent and degrading crimes of violence and sexual violence. Their suffering at your hands is frankly unimaginable and the damage inflicted by you upon them incalculable. Your criminal record is, in addition, quite deplorable. In the whole circumstances I now sentence you on this indictment as follows. On charges 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, on an in cumulo basis, you will serve an extended sentence of 18 years duration. The custodial part will comprise a period of 13 years. The extension period will be one of 5 years. For the avoidance of doubt, and having regard to the important sentencing principles of totality and clarity, I have determined that this sentence will run from today.
Finally, you will henceforth in respect of the sexual offences on this indictment be subject to the notification requirements contained in Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period."