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HMA v Aaron Swan


May 3, 2024

At the High Court in Inverness today, Lord Weir imposed an order for lifelong restriction on Aaron Swan. The offender had been found guilty of several charges, including rape and sexual assault. Swan must serve a minimum prison term of 6 years before being considered for parole. He has also been issued with non-harassment orders and added to the sex offenders’ register.

On sentencing, Lord Weir told Swan:

“Aaron Swan, you were found guilty after trial of 6 charges, comprising offences of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and also four incidents of rape against three separate complainers, two of whom were your partners at the material time.

It is a striking feature of this case that the first two incidents of rape, reflected in charges 2 and 3 on the indictment, occurred on the same night, in the same house, with your then partner and a friend of hers who had stayed over by prior arrangement.  The estrangement in their friendship thereafter, which subsisted for many years, was entirely down to your deplorable conduct on that occasion.  But the jury heard other evidence throughout the trial illustrative of your capacity for violent, manipulative, self-centred and, frankly, sinister behaviour in the context of your domestic and family relationships.  The victim impact information before the court makes it clear that your offending has had a profound and lasting effect on the complainers who provided it.  It makes for harrowing reading.  

From the report that has been prepared for the purposes of today’s hearing it is clear that you present a very high risk of causing sexual harm to both adult women and younger females, and that the public must be afforded protection from you.  The nature and circumstances of the crimes you were found to have committed, coupled with your record, the many risk factors identified in the risk assessment report, and the lack of any significant protective factors, are such as to satisfy me that there is a likelihood that, if at liberty, you will seriously endanger the lives, or the physical or psychological well-being, of members of the public at large.  Accordingly, I am satisfied that the requirements for an order for lifelong restriction are met, and I make such an order. 

This disposal constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate period.  It means that you will only ever be released from prison into the community if the Parole Board can be satisfied that public safety will not be endangered were that to happen.  It is clear from the risk assessment report that a great deal of focussed rehabilitative work would be required before that possibility could ever be realised, although I have noted your expressed willingness to involve yourself in that important process.  But, even in that eventuality, you will be subject to particularly strict conditions and liable to be recalled to prison if you breach them.

For the purposes of retribution and deterrence I am required to set the punishment part of your sentence.  This period represents the minimum period which you must serve in prison before the Parole Board can even consider your case.  In fixing the length of the punishment part of this type of sentence I am required by law to start by considering what would have been the appropriate determinate sentence for this offence, ignoring the period of confinement necessary for the protection of the public. 

In the circumstances of the present case, had I been imposing a determinate sentence on all charges in cumulo, the sentence would have been one of 14 years.  The public protection element of that sentence would have been 2 years, thereby reducing the custodial term to 12 years. 

The law then requires me to apply a statutory reduction to that period to take account of the rules for early release, which means that the punishment part of your sentence is one of 6 years.  That sentence will be backdated to 17 November 2023, being the date when you were remanded in custody on conclusion of the trial. 

But I must make it clear to you that this does not mean that you will be released automatically at the end of that 6 year period; nor does it in any sense reflect any view I might have as to when you ought to be released.  It simply means that until, as a bare minimum, that period has elapsed you cannot ask to be considered for parole. Even after the period comes to an end, your date of release will depend on the view that the Parole Board takes of the risks to public safety which you pose when it considers your case. 

In respect of charges 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, you will remain subject to the notification provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period as that term is defined in the legislation.

I also make non-harassment orders, in terms of which you will not approach, contact, or attempt to approach or contact, in any way whatsoever, and either directly or indirectly, the three complainers named in the charges on the indictment, and the children of the second and third complainers, those orders to subsist for an indefinite period."

3 May 2024