The Sunday Post (Newcastle)



Rape campaigns and MSPs have called for tougher justice for sexual crimes, claiming dangerous men who prey on women and girls will be celebratin­g the sentencing guidelines for under-25s.

The guidelines state rehabilita­tion should be a “primary considerat­ion” when sentencing someone under 25 and between January 2022, when the regulation­s were introduced, and December, around one in 11 offenders aged 24 and below received a custodial sentence. That compares to around one in eight in that age bracket beforehand.

Sandy Brindley, CEO of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “While we understand the will to keep younger people out of the prison estate, for crimes as serious as rape a robust and meaningful sentence must be given. It’s important both for survivors to have confidence that a report of rape will be handled seriously and in acting as a deterrent for potential perpetrato­rs.

“No matter how long ago it happened, our helpline is there for people who have been affected by sexual violence, whenever they’re ready to talk. Our trained support workers are available every evening from 5pm until midnight on 08088 010302. Support is also available over text, email and webchat.”

Detective Inspector Forbes Wilson of Police Scotland described Ruaraidh McCartney as a “dangerous and predatory individual who has committed serious sexual offences against a number of women”.

Sentencing judge Lord Summers said: “I decided that I should sentence Mr McCartney to a period of eight years’ imprisonme­nt.” Cowardly McCartney did not show up in person for sentencing. Instead, he watched the proceeding­s via video link from Low Moss Prison. His defence, Tony Graham KC, revealed McCartney still did not accept he had done wrong, believing himself to the “victim” of a conspiracy.

He told Lord Summers: “You heard him giving evidence in the course of the trial and there is little I can say in mitigation

regarding the conviction­s themselves, given they have been denied by Mr McCartney.

“Throughout this risk assessment there is continued reference to a lack of remorse and victim empathy and he believes he is the victim of a conspiracy. While incarcerat­ed, he will have the opportunit­y to reflect on the nature of the crimes he has been convicted of and the lifestyle he was previously leading.”

Scottish Conservati­ve shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay said: “Yet another rapist will be celebratin­g these sentencing guidelines that have benefited a catalogue of dangerous men who prey on women and girls. These perverse guidelines seek to rationalis­e the worst types of criminalit­y with no regard for victims and, while they remain in place, SNP politician­s have no right to preach about tackling genderbase­d violence.”

Scottish Labour justice spokespers­on Pauline McNeill said “This horrifying case raises yet more questions about whether the current sentencing guidelines are fit for purpose. Abhorrent crimes such as rape must be punished properly and it is heartbreak­ing that victims here feel like justice has not been done. We urgently need a review.”

 ?? ?? Pauline McNeill.
Pauline McNeill.

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