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HMA v Daniel Ashley Wood


Aug 15, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Harrower sentenced Daniel Ashley Wood to 47 months in prison. Wood had admitted two charges of sexual assault whilst on bail. He has also been added to the Sex Offenders Register.

This statement includes graphic details of sexual offences

On sentencing, Lord Harrower told Wood:

“Daniel Ashley Wood, you have pled guilty to two charges of sexual assault, carried out on two different occasions in 2020, against two young men.  Both offences were aggravated by having been committed whilst you were on bail.

The first incident occurred in the complainer’s bedroom, in a hostel for homeless people where you and he had both been staying.  You had been drinking.  Though the complainer, who was just 17 at the time, made it clear that he was not interested in having sex with you, still you forced yourself upon him. 

The second incident occurred again in the bedroom, but of another man, who appears to have been a former college friend.  Again, drink was involved.  This time you took advantage of your victim while he was sleeping.

Each incident involved acts of serious sexual violence.  In the first, though you didn’t penetrate the complainer, you did make him penetrate you, putting his penis into your mouth.  In the second, you not only made him penetrate you, putting his penis in both your mouth and your anus, but you also penetrated him, by putting your fingers into his anus.   

As the agreed narrative discloses, your legal team instructed a psychiatric report into your fitness to plead, but due in part to your own obstructive behaviour, a report only became available in February of this year.  That report confirmed your fitness to plead, and shortly thereafter your case called before me for your plea to be entered and for the Crown to move for sentencing.  I deferred sentence at that stage in order to obtain a psychiatrist’s report, since the earlier report did not necessarily address the concerns that would be appropriate for me to consider at the sentencing stage.   However, despite the psychiatrist’s best efforts, you refused to cooperate with the assessment process.  The case has required to be continued on numerous occasions, most recently on the motion of your own counsel, but once again it appears that no actual assessment could be carried out because you failed to cooperate.  The result is that I still do not have before me any formal assessment of your mental state.  What I do have however is the report referred to by Mr Crowe in which concerns were expressed about your mental health, as well as a letter dated 3 May 2023 from the psychiatrist who had been attempting to arrange to see you at that time.  She noted that you were ‘most recently seen by Dr MacAulay, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, HMP Perth visiting psychiatry service in late February 2023 who did not think [your] presentation was consistent with mental illness.’

Having regard to the fact that it seems very unlikely that any further information regarding your mental state will be forthcoming, I have decided to proceed directly to sentencing on the basis of all the information that is before me, including the fact that concerns have been expressed regarding your mental state, and the submissions made on your behalf by Mr Crowe in mitigation, including the fact that you have now shown a degree of insight into your offending, and have offered, through him today, a public apology to those against whom you offended.  I also take account of your limited record.  While you do have certain previous convictions, at least two of which were for assault, these do not include convictions for sexual offences, and they were all at summary level. 

Nevertheless, I must have regard to the seriousness of your offending.  In addition to the statutory bail aggravations, the offences were aggravated by reason of their having taken place in the victims’ own bedrooms.  Since in each case you were a guest, this necessarily involved an abuse of trust.  They were further aggravated by their having been committed while under the influence of alcohol, and, at least in relation to the second offence, by an element of planning.  I have been provided with a statement from the victim of the second offence, from which it is clear that your behaviour has caused him great psychological and emotional harm.  In these circumstances, I am satisfied that only a substantial sentence of imprisonment will reflect the need for both retribution and deterrence.

I propose to sentence you on the basis that these offences reflect a single course of criminal conduct in which you were engaged.  But for your plea of guilty, the sentence would have been one of imprisonment on both charges in cumulo for a period of 52 months, 4 months of which would have been attributable to the bail aggravation.  Your plea was made shortly before the trial was due to take place.  By that stage your victims had already been required to give evidence at commission, and therefore your plea had less utilitarian value than it might otherwise have done.  Nevertheless I am prepared to discount the sentence I would have imposed to one of imprisonment for 47 months, backdated to 14 February 2023 when you were first remanded in custody in relation to this indictment.

The notification provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 will apply for an indefinite period. I have already directed the clerk of court to intimate details of your conviction to the Scottish Ministers in terms the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.”

15 August 2023