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HMA v Craig Michael Watson


Apr 25, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lady Poole sentenced Craig Michael Watson to 10 years’ imprisonment after the offender was found guilty of historic sex abuse charges against three boys and a vulnerable adolescent. Two months were added to the sentence for failure to attend an earlier court date.

On sentencing, Lady Poole said:

“Craig Michael Watson, on 12 March 2024 you were convicted by the jury at Edinburgh High Court of historic abuse of four male victims.  Three victims were boys then aged between 9 and 11, and the fourth was a vulnerable adolescent.  You also plead guilty to failing to appear at a preliminary hearing at an earlier stage in your prosecution. 

Three of your victims described being asleep, two of them after you had plied them with alcohol or drugs, and they woke up to find you abusing them.  Your other victim described you taking advantage of him in your home, making him perform sexual acts on you as well as you doing them to him. You appear to have looked for opportunities where you could abuse your victims.  You were an alcoholic, and perhaps that impaired your judgement, but that is no excuse. 

You have been convicted of offences of indecent assault because of the historic nature of your crimes.  That does not detract from the fact that your crimes were of an extremely serious nature.    

It was difficult for your victims to come to court, and give evidence of what they had endured because of your depravity.  They are to be commended for their courage in doing so.  Most of them described pain at the time from what you were doing to them.  The emotional scars of what you did will have been longer lasting. One victim in particular has provided a victim impact statement setting out the serious long term consequences for him of what you did.

You have continued to deny your guilt and shown no remorse.  You suggest all four of your victims are making it up, but the jury rejected that. 

Your record of previous convictions is modest.  It includes two violent offences and one drugs offence, but there are no analogous sexual offences.  You have previously only served one short term of imprisonment, after failing to perform a community based sentence for assault.

I have considered the criminal justice social work I ordered.  The report noted the planning in some of your offending.  Although the offences were historical, they spanned a significant period, involved multiple victims, and suggested entrenched patterns of abusive behaviour.  The report concluded there was a significant risk of serious sexual abuse, particularly against male children when the opportunity presents. 

I have also taken into account everything said on your behalf in mitigation.  You did a YTS many years ago and had some itinerant work subsequently.  You played the guitar and were at one time in a band.   However you have in the main chosen to squander your life on drink and occasional drug use. You are now 53 years old. You have some supportive family members.  You have some health issues. 

I sentence you on a cumulo basis for charges 2 to 5. I have been persuaded by the submissions on your behalf that the statutory test for an extended sentence is not met in this case, because of the lengthy period since your sexual offending of 13 ½ years, the absence of any analogous previous convictions, your age now and at the time of your release, and the effect of being on the Sex Offenders’ register.  I therefore sentence you to a determinate sentence of 10 years imprisonment on those charges. 

I must also deal with the offence concerning your failure to appear at a preliminary hearing which had been continued for you to appear.  I was told this was because you were an alcoholic and did not manage to get to court that day. I do not find that to be a good excuse.  There is considerable pressure on the courts to hear cases, and valuable court time is wasted if accused persons fail to appear.  To mark the court’s displeasure, I sentence you to a consecutive sentence of 2 months imprisonment on charge 7, reduced from 3 months for your early guilty plea. 

Your sentence will be backdated to 26 July 2023 when you first entered custody in relation to this case. 

As a result of that sentence you now become subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period”.