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HMA v Liam Hughes


Nov 21, 2023

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Young imposed and extended sentence of 10years on Liam Hughes. This includes 6 years and 6 months in prison and 3 years and 6 months on licence in the community. The offender had been found guilty of the rape of three teenage girls.

On sentencing, Lord Young told Hughes:

“Liam Hughes, the jury found you guilty of 4 charges of rape involving three different victims who were aged 14 and 15 at the time. The last 3 charges of rape were all aggravated by the fact that you were on bail when you committed those offences. In addition, you were found guilty of the sexual assault of another 15 year old victim.

I have been provided with a Victim Impact Statement from one of the young women which explains the significant effect which your attack has had on her mental health, her schooling and ultimately her hopes for the future. It is a reasonable assumption that your other victims will also have suffered similar harm.

You are still a very young man at age 18 and it is important that I explain clearly to you what your sentence will be and why it is imposed in those terms.

The sentence which I am going to impose today is known as an extended sentence. It is in two parts. The first part of the sentence is the period of detention which you will serve initially in a Young Offenders Institution. The second part is the extension part when you will be on licence and under supervision in the community. You need to understand that when you are serving the extended period in the community, you will be subject to licence conditions fixed by the Scottish Ministers. If during the extension period you fail to comply with the conditions of your licence, it may be revoked and you may be returned to custody for a further period in respect of this indictment.

The reason why your sentence will be in this form is that there is an unacceptable risk that on your release from detention the standard licence arrangements will be inadequate to protect the public, primarily young woman, from serious harm caused by you. While I hope that my concern proves unfounded, that risk is too high for me to ignore. I have formed the opinion that you are likely to present such a risk to the public for a number of reasons. The CJSWR assesses you as presenting a medium risk of both general and sexual re-offending in the future. That report points out that you seek to deflect all responsibility for your actions by blaming your victims and that unless you can change that way of thinking, the risk of re-offending will not reduce. I also note that you have had extensive contact with the Youth Justice Service in relation to offending behaviour while below the age of 16 but that has clearly been unsuccessful in diverting you from that path. Finally, I find it very concerning that, even after the start of the police investigations and when you were placed on bail, you carried out three further rapes. Indeed, when you were almost 17 and were the subject of two bail orders, you arranged to meet a 15 year old girl who you hardly knew; raped her in woodland; and walked away. The start of police involvement – far from being a wake-up call to you - seems to have had the opposite effect.

Mr Targowski has reminded me this morning of the Sentencing Young Persons guideline which applies in your situation and I agree with him that this is an important guideline in your case. You committed these offences when you were aged 15 and 16 although the last offence was committed a few months before your 17th birthday. I consider that you were an emotionally immature young man at the time of these offences, not helped by having ready access to alcohol and illegal drugs. You have also suffered from some mental health issues in your teens. None of this excuses your crimes, nor does it help the young women who you have harmed, but it is important to acknowledge that what you did as an immature teenager is less blameworthy than if you had carried out these acts as an older man. For that reason, the period of time which you will spend in detention for these offences will be shorter than an adult man would be sentenced for the same offences.

On the basis that these offences were all part of a course of criminal conduct, I shall sentence you on a cumulo basis in respect of all five charges.  In all the circumstances, I sentence you on these charges to an extended sentence of 10 years comprising a period of detention of 6 years and 6 months and an extension period of 3 years and 6 months. In relation to the period of detention, 6 months of that period is attributed to the bail aggravations in charges 6, 7 & 8. The sentence is backdated to 12th October 2023.

As a result of your conviction and the sentence imposed, you are subject to the notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.”