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HMA v Struan Pryde


Sep 21, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Scott sentenced Struan Pryde to four years imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of rape.

On sentencing Lord Scott made the following remarks in court:

“You have been found guilty of raping a woman on 4 February 2020 in her own home.  Before passing sentence, I required to obtain a Criminal Justice Social Work Report.

The report provides me with considerable background about you which has been supplemented by 15 character references from family, friends and others and what has been said today on your behalf by Mr Scullion.

I note that you maintained the same position in interview with the author of the CJSW report as you did in your evidence, namely that you are innocent.  I note, however, that the report suggests that you may have the beginnings of insight and awareness regarding the crime you have committed.

In relation to Sexual History and Functioning, the report states: ‘His actions suggest he sought to meet his own sexual needs on the evening of the offence without consideration towards the capacity of the victim to convey consent.’

This appears to me to be a reasonable summary of what happened that night.  One striking aspect of your behaviour was its sheer persistence despite several unanswered phone calls and knocks at the door of the complainer’s flat.  Even on your own evidence, you had absolutely no reason to think that the complainer wanted you to come to her flat to have sex with her.

You have said that you hope to engage in educational courses in custody as well as seeking volunteering opportunities.  You might usefully also consider attending any available courses relating to healthy sexual relationships, especially regarding what consent is.

The terms of the risk assessment in the CJSWR are such that there is no need to consider an extended sentence.

You have no previous convictions.  The character references speak very highly of you.  They provide additional information about you, including your role for several years as a Scottish Ambulance Service First Responder in which you performed an important role regarding public safety.  Mr Scullion has emphasised your impressive contribution to society by way of an exceptional willingness to help others at what is still a young age.

I take all I have read and heard into account.  It makes your conduct that night even more puzzling as you are clearly an intelligent young man who appears to have enjoyed a loving and supportive life and to be an otherwise useful member of society who had a bright future ahead of him.

Turning to the indictment, the charge involved rape of the victim when she was intoxicated and incapable of giving or withholding consent.  It is an extremely serious charge.  There is no Victim Impact Statement but the long-term effects on survivors of rape is known to be significant and lasting.

Having regard to the gravity of the charge, as rightly acknowledged by Mr Scullion, only a custodial sentence is appropriate.  This is necessary to punish you and to seek to deter you and others from behaving in this way.

You are 23 years old and, at the time of this crime, you were 19.  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.’

Along with that Guideline, I have considered carefully all that is said in the Criminal Justice Social Work Report and all that has been said on your behalf by Mr Scullion, together with the references.  The sentence I impose is less than it would have been had the Guidelines not applied.

In the circumstances, I impose a sentence of 4 years imprisonment.  The sentence will be backdated to 15 August 2023.

As a consequence you will be subject to notification requirements indefinitely.”