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HMA v Bernard Callaghan


Apr 17, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lady Poole imposed an extended sentenced of 12 years on Bernard Callaghan, after the offender was convicted of 10 charges of abuse against three different women. The custodial pat was set at 9 years with an extension period of 3 years.

On sentencing Lady Poole made the following remarks in court:

"Bernard James Stephen Callaghan on 4 March 2024 you were convicted by the jury at the High Court in Edinburgh of 10 charges of abuse of three different victims. 

Your first victim was in a relationship with you for a lengthy period.  For over a decade you abused her.  You assaulted and injured her, and you raped her on numerous occasions.  When she tried to get away from you at times when the relationship was ongoing, you stalked her, and threatened to kill yourself until she gave in and took you back.  She suffered both physical and psychological injuries because of what you did to her.

Your second victim had a shorter relationship with you.  You also raped her.  She tried to end the relationship, and you displayed a similar pattern of bombarding her with messages and threatening to kill yourself if she didn’t reconcile with you. 

Your third victim met you on a dating website.  On your second date you raped her as well.  As she put it, even though she said no, you helped yourself.  She said she didn’t want to see you again, but you just continued messaging her time and again until eventually she contacted the police. 

You were in relationships with all of these women.  No doubt you were kind and considerate to them at times.  But other times you behaved extremely badly towards them.  You did what you wanted without thinking properly about what they wanted.  All of them have suffered at your hands.  Victim statements from some of your victims speak to long term consequences for them. 

You lack insight into your offending.

You come before the court as a 53 year old man, and all of your offending was carried out after the age of 28.  Your record of previous convictions is short, and comprises one assault to injury in 2005, and stalking behaviour towards your first victim after your relationship had ended.   You have never before been imprisoned. 

I have had regard to a criminal justice social work and an addendum which I requested.  The assessor considered that the sexual violence you carried out was an extension of the coercive control you tried to exercise over your victims.  The assessor carried out various risk assessments.  In the tool relating to partner violence you were found to pose a high risk of serious harm from interpersonal violence.  Other more general tools found you at lower risk levels.  

I have taken into account everything said on your behalf in mitigation. Although you have never formally been assessed for learning disability or dyslexia, I note your difficulties learning at school, and that you left at age 18 with no qualifications.  I note your long history of paid employment, as a machinist, and then a bus driver, and your age.

The sentence I will impose on you reflects that our society will not tolerate partner abuse.   It is unacceptable to behave towards women in the way that you did.  People should behave towards their partners with respect and affection, not beat them up, rape and stalk them. I have taken into account that you have not previously been sentenced to imprisonment or detention, but given the nature and seriousness of the crimes of which you have been convicted no other method of dealing with you is appropriate. 

The jury found you guilty on the basis of abusive conduct towards 3 former partners over time periods spanning about 12 years.  Although some of the offences you committed were statutory with maximum sentences, and others common law offences, I consider it appropriate to sentence you cumulatively for the whole course of your abuse, which means there will be one sentence to cover all 10 offences of which you were convicted. 

The sentence I impose is an extended sentence of 12 years, 9 of which is the custodial part, with an extension period of 3 years.  1 year of the custodial part reflects partner aggravations.  I have imposed an extended sentence because I am satisfied in all of the circumstances that ordinary conditions of licence would be inadequate for the purposes of protecting the public from serious harm from you on your release from prison, particularly women you might form relationships with in the future.  During the extension period you will be subject to a licence, the conditions of which will be set by the Scottish Ministers. Breach of any of these conditions will make you liable to be recalled to serve out the whole of the sentence in custody, and you may also be sentenced for any offence committed while on licence. 

Your sentence will be backdated to 8 September 2022 when you were first remanded in custody.  As a result of the sentence I have imposed you will be on the Sex Offenders register for an indefinite period.  As you know, I already imposed non-harassment orders on you after the jury convicted you, and your name has been given to the Scottish Ministers in connection with the protection of vulnerable groups legislation."

17 April 2024