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HMA v Charles Donnelly


Apr 30, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Lady Carmichael imposed an extended sentence of 14 years on Charles Donnelly. Donnelly received a 9 year custodial term with a 5 year extension after pleading guilty to historic sexual offences against three victims.

On sentencing, Lady Carmichael told Donnelly:

“You have pleaded guilty to sexual offences against three victims.  The first was a young woman whom you raped repeatedly during a period of about four years.  The second was a boy against whom you committed a serious offence on a single occasion.  The third was a girl whom you repeatedly sexually abused over a period of nine years.  You committed the offences between 1976 and 1992.

You have a record of sexual offending.  The most serious conviction involved sexual offences against children between 1983 and 1994 for which you received a sentence of 7 years in 2015.  I have been told that you were recalled to prison following early release because you were in the company of a young child in breach of your licence conditions.

The criminal justice social work report contains a good deal of information about your early life, which I can see involved a number of difficulties including traumatic experiences.  You presented with behavioural difficulties and intellectual impairment when you were quite young.  You have some difficulties with your physical health, and a diagnosed learning disability.  You are now 70 years of age.

I take into account your record of offending.  I bear in mind that the sentence you received in 2015 was for offending that was taking place at the same time as the offending to which you have now pleaded guilty, and that there is no indication that you have offended in this way since 1994, a period now of thirty years.

Your offending has caused lasting harm to your victims.  I have read and taken into account the two victim impact statements I have received.  All of your victims should have been able to treat you as someone they could trust.

You offered to plead guilty on 23 February 2024, just over a month before your trial was due to start.  Senior counsel has explained that considerable care was taken to ensure that you were fit to plead and that you were able to instruct that plea.

I am imposing an extended sentence of 14 years, of which the custodial part will be 9 years, with an extended licence period of 5 years.

I have taken your plea of guilty into account by discounting by one-tenth the period of custody I would otherwise impose.  But for your plea of guilty, that period would have been 10 years.

Given the nature and extent of your offending over a number of years, and the circumstance that you breached your licence when released early from your previous sentence, I am satisfied that the normal period of licence would not be sufficient to protect the public adequately if I simply imposed a custodial sentence.  I have also taken account of the opinion of the social worker who provided the criminal justice social work report, which is that you will need a significant period of monitoring and supervision in the community once you are released from custody.  In addition to sentencing you to a period in custody, I am imposing an extended period of licence of 5 years.

The sentence will be backdated to 18 November 2022.  You were remanded on 2 November 2022, but your period on remand overlapped with your previous sentence.  The time you have spent on remand for the offences I am dealing with today started on 18 November 2022.

You will be subject to reporting requirements in terms of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.”

 30 April 2024