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Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA v. Myles James Harris
Jun 7, 2023
On sentencing Lord Scott made the following remarks to the accused
“You have pled guilty to a charge of rape of a young child.
Your counsel has acknowledged the gravity of the charge. You raped a child when you were 18 and she was only 12. You knew her age. Your counsel rightly acknowledged the inevitability of a custodial sentence, despite your age then and now.
I have read the Victim Impact Statement of the victim or survivor of your rape which was prepared by her mother. This confirms the serious and ongoing daily effects on her.
Before passing sentence, I required to obtain a Criminal Justice Social Work Report. The report provides me with background information about you.
Although you started using drugs when you were only 12, your excessive and problematic use of alcohol and drugs seems to have started around the age of 15 following the death of your grandmother. You told the author of the CJSWR that you have no memory of what you did at the time of your offence due to excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs. I must make clear that the use of alcohol and drugs provides you with no excuse or mitigation at all. However, I note that you have now made significant changes to your lifestyle as a result, stopping all use of drink and drugs, as well as distancing yourself from some of your previous associates by moving to Kent.
You are 19 now and so the Guideline for Sentencing Young People applies. This Guideline has received some publicity and is not always well understood. It was issued and approved by the Court only after wide consultation and was based on significant international evidence about the development of the young mind and issues often relevant to those under 25 regarding maturity, poor judgment and succumbing to negative influences as well as capacity for change. These issues are highly relevant in your case. Rehabilitation is emphasised in the Guidelines although this can happen in a number of ways and does not mean that custody can always be avoided, especially where a charge is very serious. Your counsel rightly highlighted that aspects of the Guideline are apparent in your circumstances, especially through your increased insight and understanding, lifestyle changes and expressions of willingness to receive additional help to avoid future offending.
You have one previous conviction for road traffic matters to which I attach no weight.
The terms of the risk assessment in the CJSWR are such that there is no need to consider an extended sentence.
I have considered and take into account the terms of the CJSWR and victim impact statement and all that has been carefully said on your behalf today by your counsel. She has emphasised your remorse, insight and willingness to take part in relevant programmes in custody. She has rightly stressed your plea of guilty which is, as has been said, unusual in such cases.
It would be in your interests as well as society’s for you to participate in any programmes which will address your offending in all its aspects.
Having regard to the whole circumstances of the case, in particular the gravity of the charge, only a custodial sentence is appropriate. You are 19 years old and, at the time of these crimes, you were 18 years old. I accordingly have regard to the Guidelines for the Sentencing of Young People which are relevant in your case. I bear in mind what is said in paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Young Persons Guideline, in particular in paragraph 21 which states:
'If a custodial sentence is imposed on a young person, it should be shorter than that which would have been imposed on an older person for the same, or a similar, offence.'
The starting point for your sentence is less than it would have been had the Guidelines not applied.
Rape of a young child is obviously an extremely serious charge. The law exists to protect children from sexual activity when they are too young. That includes protecting them from themselves.
But for your plea of guilty, the custodial term would have been one of 4 years 6 months detention. You pleaded guilty at an early stage by way of specific procedure to accelerate matters. I must and do recognise that there is a utilitarian value – that is primarily that there was a saving of court time – and I will therefore reduce the period of 4 years 6 months by 30%. That gives a final custodial term of 3 years detention.
Sentence is backdated to 11 May 2023 when you were remanded in custody.
As a consequence of this sentence, you will be subject to notification requirements indefinitely.”