A judge may decide to publish a statement after passing sentence on an offender in cases where there is particular public interest; where a case has legal significance; or where providing the reasons for the decision might assist public understanding.

Please note that statements may include graphic details of offences when it is necessary to fully explain the reasons behind a sentencing decision.  

Follow us if you wish to receive alerts as soon as statements are published. 

Once charges are spent, any statement in relation to them is removed and cannot be provided or acknowledged. Statements published before the launch of the website may be available on request. Please email

The independence of the judiciary is essential to safeguard people’s rights under law - enabling judges to make decisions impartially based solely on evidence and law, without interference or influence from the government or politicians.

When deciding a sentence, a judge must deal with the offence that the offender has been convicted of, taking into account the unique circumstances of each particular case. The judge will carefully consider the facts that are presented to the Court by both the prosecution and by the defence.

For more information about how judges decide sentences; what sentences are available; and matters such as temporary release, see the independent Scottish Sentencing Council website.

Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.

Read more about civil judgments.

HMA v Benjamin Young


Mar 19, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lord Arthurson imposed an Order for Life Long Restriction on Benjamin Young, after the offender pled guilty to 32 charges including the sexual abuse and rape of children.

On sentencing Lord Arthurson made the following remarks in court:

(Some of the remarks have been edited due to the graphic nature of the offences and to protect the identities of the victims. Please note it does still contain details of the offences, which people may find upsetting)

"Benjamin Young, on 20 December 2023 at a preliminary hearing at Glasgow High Court you tendered pleas of guilty to 32 charges on a 102 charge indictment.  The Court proceeded directly to the making of a risk assessment order in respect of you, and a detailed and very lengthy report, with multiple appendices, is now available.  

As I indicated at the last calling of this case, very occasionally crimes come before the Court which are so abhorrent that words are simply not adequate to express appropriate public revulsion.  Yours, Mr Young, are such crimes.  Your offending has plumbed the very abyss of depravity.  It is scarcely possible to believe that any person could do what you have done to your child victims in this case.  Put short, you sexually abused and raped children as young as two years old, systematically filmed that abuse and then distributed the resulting images and footage online to an network of paedophiles in which network you played a pivotal  role.  You yourself are plainly a calculating and thoroughly committed paedophile. This in my view is one of the very worst cases of its kind ever to come before the High Court.  You can be assured that your sentence today will reflect that dismal reality.

For a period of just under two years you engaged in extensive and prolonged sexual offending against ten children and one adult.  The levels of breach of trust and abuse of power in this case are quite simply, to put matters directly, off the scale.  Your offending included, but was not limited to, voyeurism and the sexual assault and rape of young children.  You created and then distributed indecent images and videos of these crimes.  Indeed, it is a matter of agreement that your offending in this case is supported in full by cybercrime evidence.  

The very worst offending was directed by you against a child then aged between two and four years.   You raped her on no less than 26 occasions. You raped her anally, vaginally and orally.  Multiple videos disclosing this abuse were recovered.  These images also showed your victim holding a piece of card with a particular word written on it for the reference of other paedophiles accessing the footage online.  She was not the only victim whose abuse was filmed with a handwritten sign placed with or on them.  This was dehumanising conduct, indicating that you viewed your victims simply as objects or pawns to be used sexually for your own debased gratification and that of your fellow paedophiles.

I do not propose to rehearse the whole catalogue of your criminal conduct in this case in any detail, but note that your offending further included the attempted anal rape of a four year old boy and the anal rape of a five year old boy.  Across the board, your offending here, which offending has been described by the appointed risk assessor as the abuse of children with high frequency and density, involved the contravention by you of sections 3, 9, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 26 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 and of sections 52(1)(a) and 52(1)(b) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, as amended.  

The child abuse images recovered from your devices are noted to be at the worst end of the spectrum.  Using several user names, you were both a user and moderator in online chatrooms for your paedophile network.  On your own account you designed some of this yourself.  In short, you created and moderated online private chat rooms to facilitate the exchange of indecent images of children;  you appointed others to act as moderators within such rooms;  you induced others to carry out sexual offences against children;  you accepted indecent images of children in exchange for entry to such rooms;  you exchanged messages related to the sexual abuse of children;  you monitored and edited online content relating to indecent images of children;  and you vetted members of these online rooms.  

This was a complex and organised structure, in which you clearly played a very significant role. It was a structure geared up for the systematic abuse of children on an apparently international basis.  Such was the base and escalating nature of your internet tastes and addictions that you, on your own admission, have viewed adults being murdered in a particular virtual room.  I also note your admission to the risk assessor that the vast bulk of the offences in respect of which your not guilty pleas have been accepted in this case did indeed occur.  You will, of course, to be clear, be sentenced today only for the crimes of which you stand convicted.

You are now aged 43 and have no previous convictions.  The risk assessment report is comprehensive, cogent and clear in its recommendation that an order for lifelong restriction be imposed in your case.  Your senior counsel has not sought, in my view very properly, to dissuade me from following that recommendation.  

In terms of neurodevelopmental disorders, you are assessed as meeting the criteria for autism.  In addition you have a constellation of personality disorders, including a paedophilia disorder, and you have paraphilic deviant interests in respect of pre‑pubescent boys, girls, older children, sexual violence with adults, voyeurism and sadism.  You have psychopathic traits.  The potential for change with time and/or intervention is significantly limited in your case due to the risk factors and formulation outlined in detail in the report of the risk assessor.  The difficulties with which you present are described by the assessor as unrelenting.  

Your sexual interests are described as serious, prolonged, high intensity and poly‑deviant.  Your offending was fuelled by extreme levels of sexual deviancy.  The assessor has noted the chronicity and severity of your sexual deviancy, and reports that you told him that you were thinking constantly of abusing children.  The assessor has further considered the chat logs engaged in by you and has concluded that you view children as objects to be violated using sadistic sexual violence. Unsurprisingly, the appointed assessor characterises the risk presented by you as high.

I have listened with care to the submissions advanced on your behalf this morning in mitigation by your senior counsel, and note in particular what has been said regarding diagnosis of autism, your acceptance of criminal responsibility by way of your guilty pleas, your insight into your current circumstances and your expressed remorse.

In this case the primary sentencing issue before the Court is whether the risk criteria expressed in section 210E of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 have been established and whether you can accordingly properly be located within that cohort of exceptional offenders for whom an order for lifelong restriction is the only appropriate disposal.  Having regard to the nature, scale and gravity of your index offending and to the risk assessment material now available to the Court, I have concluded that the nature and gravity, and indeed the pattern, of your offending behaviour are such as to demonstrate that there is a likelihood that you, if at liberty, will seriously endanger the physical or psychological well‑being of members of the public at large, and in particular, of course, young children.

Turning now to disposal, I confirm that in all of these circumstances I propose today in respect of charges 2, 3, 5, 7, 16, 17, 18, 21, 25, 26, 31, 34, 36, 44, 49, 74, 75, 76, 78, 80, 85, 86, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 97, 99, 100 and 101 of this indictment, on an in cumulo basis, to make an order for lifelong restriction in respect of you.  That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period.  I also require to fix what is referred to as the punishment part of your sentence, being the period which you must spend in full in prison before you can apply to be released on licence.  The crimes before the Court today represent an escalating course of truly sickening offending of the utmost gravity, with in total ten child victims and one adult.

The degree of breach of trust, manipulation and calculation involved in this offending quite simply beggars belief. You have inflicted catastrophe on the most defenceless members of our society, and their families, and done so without remorse. Accordingly, had I not been imposing this order, the headline custodial term of the determinate sentence which I would have selected on this indictment, on an in cumulo basis, would have been one of 32 years.  The part of this notional period which would represent an appropriate period to satisfy the sentencing requirements of retribution and deterrence is in my view 28 years.  Taking the timing of your plea of guilty into account at this stage of the sentencing exercise, I will now discount that latter period of 28 years to one of 24 years.  Having then applied the well understood statutory formula, I accordingly require to fix the punishment part of this disposal at 12 years.

Please be clear, however, that the sentence imposed by the Court today is not a sentence of 12 years imprisonment.  It is instead an order for lifelong restriction, which is a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period.  You will not be eligible to apply for parole until the punishment part has been concluded and you must not assume that you will be automatically released at that time.  You will be released only when the Parole Board for Scotland determines that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you should continue to be confined in prison.  When you are released, if indeed you are ever released at all, is in law a matter for the Parole Board in due course.

I confirm that the sentence imposed today will be backdated to 2 January 2023, being the date of your initial remand into custody in these proceedings.  

I further confirm that you will henceforth, as a result of this disposal, be subject to the notification requirements contained in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.

Finally, the Court today makes a series of non‑harassment orders in respect of you regarding all of the complainers in this case.  You will not approach or contact, or attempt to approach or contact, in person, by telephone, digitally or in any manner whatsoever, any of them, for an indefinite period.


19 March 2024