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HMA v Mark Fordham


Nov 9, 2023

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Matthews imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on Mark Fordham after the offender pled guilty to two attempted child sex offences. Fordham has also been sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in prison.

On sentencing Lord Matthews said:

“You pleaded guilty at a preliminary hearing to two charges.

The first was effectively attempting to meet a person whom you believed to be a child with a view to engaging in unlawful sexual activity with her.

The second involved your sending sexual images and communications to the same person.

You have sixteen convictions in England and Wales for theft and other offences of dishonesty, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and road-traffic offences.  You also have convictions in Scotland which are analogous to the current offences.

On 20 March 2014, in the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh, you were convicted of the following six charges:

  • Charge 1:  meeting a child following certain preliminary communications, contrary to section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005;
  • Charge 2:  having intercourse with an older child, contrary to section 28 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009;
  • Charge 3:  a further charge of having intercourse with an older child, contrary to section 28 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009;
  • Charge 4:  engaging in sexual activity with an older child, contrary to section 30 of the 2009 Act;
  • Charge 5:  distributing or showing indecent photographs or pseudo‑photographs of a child, contrary to section 52(1)(b) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982;  and
  • Charge 6:  taking or permitting to be taken or making indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child, contrary to section 52(1)(a) of the 1982 Act.

On 3 August 2017, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, you were convicted of one charge of sexual exposure, contrary to section 8 of the 2009 Act.

The advocate depute read an agreed narrative of the circumstances of the offences and I need not rehearse that now.

It was plain to me then that you might well pose a significant danger to children in particular and on Crown motion I ordered a Risk Assessment Report, which, putting matters shortly, states that you pose a high risk of seriously endangering the lives or physical or psychological well-being of members of the public at large.

The reporter points out that victims in the past have included a female teenager (whom you met by posing as a 17 year old in a social media account and against whom you went on to offend sexually); partners and a child to whom you were violent; and adult males whom you did not know and to whom you exposed yourself and masturbated.

You have committed seriously harmful offences in the past; and it appears that had you had the opportunity in relation to your current offences you would have committed a sexual offence that would have caused serious harm.  You have offended on licence, within 4 days of release in 2017; and, in relation to your current offences in 2022, within a month of release.

You have had a long-term sentence; a period on licence on an extended sentence, with robust licence conditions and support in place; access to interventions with which you have engaged and you have been subject to monitoring.  A review of records indicated that robust, active and alert multi-agency risk management measures were in place to try and manage your risk in the community.  None of these risk management measures so far have had a sufficient impact on your  risk or on your capacity to cause serious harm, despite your seemingly engaging well in these, and appearing compliant.  Assessment of your risk using structured tools indicates that you continue to present with a number of characteristics that are relevant to your risk of causing on-going serious harm to others.  Personality and sexual functioning difficulties appear to underpin this risk.  There are insufficient protective factors that can counter balance this risk.

There is a number of potential offence scenarios, some of which would be considered likely or imminent should you have access to the community and some are associated with your causing serious harm. You seem particularly motivated to engage in sexual violence against others, despite verbalising an intent to engage and put effort into changing.  There is evidence of your trying to deceive those supervising you and to evade detection.

I have listened carefully to all that has been said on your behalf and taken account of all the materials presented to me but I am satisfied that it is necessary in your case to impose an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

In doing so I have to set a period, called the punishment part, which must pass before you are eligible to apply for parole. Whether or not you are released thereafter, and on what conditions, will be for the Parole Board to determine.

Had I been imposing a determinate sentence it would have been a cumulo one –namely an extended sentence of 10 years with a custodial term of 6 years and an extension period of 4.

Leaving aside the element of public protection, which is in the extension period, I then have to fix a proportion of that period as the punishment part. It is usually, because of the way the legislation works, one half of the period but can be more depending on the factors set out in section 2B of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993. I have decided that I should not make it any more than half since the seriousness of the offence and your previous convictions are reflected in the period which I already selected. That means that the period is one of 3 years.

Given your plea at a preliminary hearing, I reduce the punishment part to one of 2 years and 3 months.

The sentence will run from 27 June 2022.”