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Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.
HMA v Jacqueline Millar
Jul 19, 2023
On sentencing, Sheriff O’Carroll told Millar:
“You have pleaded guilty to a serious offence: that of sexual abuse of trust, contrary to section 42 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.
You were a teacher at the school attended by the child, and you worked with the male child as part of your duties in the support for learning unit and while working there you became the principal teacher for inclusion. The child was directly under your care, was vulnerable and needed direct one to one attention which it was your duty to provide. But you abused your position and took advantage of the position of trust you were placed in as regards this vulnerable child.
While the child was still aged 15 and still attending your school, you engaged in consensual sexual behaviour, first kissing then within weeks, sexual intercourse. That sexual activity with the boy began in August 2021 and took place regularly in different places, including your car and your home and did not cease until February 2022, shortly after he left school following his 16th birthday. That required a considerable degree of planning and forethought. Some of your colleagues expressed concern that you were putting yourself in a difficult position noticing the closeness of your relationship with the boy, but those concerns went unheeded. You allowed him to move into your home, conniving in the deception of the boy’s relatives as to arrangements and the truth of your relationship. That relationship between you and the boy, on your account, ended some months after he turned 16 and after he had left school and did so in a rather explosive fashion. You knew throughout that what you were doing was wrong.
The fact that you have pleaded guilty at an early stage is to your credit, demonstrates acceptance of responsibility, avoids protracted court procedure and importantly, avoids the need for boy having to give evidence. As you will learn shortly the sentence will reflect that fact.
Much has been said very ably if I may say so, and at length by your counsel in your favour. Among many things, she points to the absence of any offending behaviour in your 36 years, to your generally pro-social life, to your previously unblemished and successful teaching career. She points to your remorse and regret, to the fact that now the truth has come out, you have lost your career, your reputation, friends and the respect of the community. Your counsel places considerable weight on a psychological report in which the psychologist offers the opinion that the diagnostic requirements for a condition known as complex post-traumatic stress disorder were met before your offending started, and after, though that did not affect your ability to appreciate the nature and wrongfulness of your conduct. Your counsel also points to the contents of the criminal justice social work report which is generally very favourable to you and which states that you are suitable for a community based disposal.
Your counsel also points to the nature of the relationship between you and the boy where it is claimed that the boy became physically and sexually abusive and manipulative of you from an early stage in the sexual relationship in September 2021, while the boy was still attending school, ultimately leading to the critical sundering of the relationship and this conviction. Great stress is laid by your counsel on the significance of that claim. However, there is little if anything beyond your say so to support that claim, until around the end of the relationship, well after the boy had left school and well after the dates of this libel. No formal allegations of such conduct have been made by you to the police despite encouragement.
But in any event, in my view, where a 34 year old responsible adult teacher begins and develops an adult-type sexual relationship of many months with a vulnerable pupil less than half her age, moreover one with such learning difficulties and behavioural problems that he requires specialist attention, which was supposed to have been provided professionally by you in the learning support unit, it would be unsurprising if the result was a marked degree of disturbance in that child’s psychology and behavioural problems with you. You of all people ought to have appreciated that. So far as these criminal proceedings are concerned, the boy was the victim, not you.
In sentencing you, I require to take into account all relevant factors and I do so, including all that was said by the Crown, all the reports I have carefully read including the documentary material handed up to the bench earlier this morning. I have very carefully listened to and noted the submissions by your counsel, well-made by your counsel today, and on an earlier occasion. I have to take account also of the statutory prohibition against the imprisonment of an offender if she has not previously served a custodial sentence unless no other method of dealing with the offender is appropriate.
This is a very tragic case it might well be said, particularly for you. Your counsel accepts candidly and correctly that this is a very serious offence and she accepts also that the normal disposal in a case such as this is imprisonment, even on a first offence. However, she submits that the circumstances of this case are special and that the correct and just disposal should be a community sentence. I have very carefully considered that ultimate submission and in particular whether I can conclude that no other sentence is appropriate.
I very much regret to say that in my view taking account of all that I have mentioned, and in particular the gravity of the offence and your culpability, despite all that has been said by way of mitigation, there is no alternative to a custodial sentence. The appropriate starting point for sentence in my view is 20 months imprisonment. However, having regard to the early stage of your plea, I will reduce that sentence to 14 months.
In addition, I now require to fix the period for which you will be subject to the notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, that is to say in everyday language, how long you will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register. That period will be 10 years. Notification was made to the Scottish Ministers at the previous hearing of your unsuitability to work with vulnerable people.”
19 July 2023