Custodial term of 13 years not excessive for father who raped daughter, appeal judges rule

A man who was jailed for 13 years after being convicted of raping his daughter and his niece has had an appeal against his sentence refused.

The appellant, “JM”, was given an extended sentence of 16 years, the custodial part of which was 13 years and the extension period was three years, after being found guilty of charges of rape and sexual abuse.

He claimed that the custodial element of the sentence was “excessive”, but the Criminal Appeal Court refused the appeal after observing that these were “very serious offences”.

Lord Menzies and Lord Drummond Young heard that the appellant had been convicted of a variety of offences following a four-day trial at Livingston High Court in March 2016.

In the trial judge’s report to the appeal court, he noted, with regard to the charges involving sexual abuse of the appellant’s daughter, that these charges involved “extremely frequent” and “serious sexual abuse” of the complainer.

The abuse began when the complainer was about five years of age and continued until she was nearly 16, the report stated.

And the evidence showed that the appellant sexually abused his daughter “throughout most of her childhood” on a “very regular basis”.

In view of the persistence and gravity of the abuse the complainer’s vulnerability and the appellant’s “gross breach of trust” the case was an “exceptionally serious” one, the trial judge observed.

However, on behalf of the appellant, it was submitted that while the total period of the extended sentence might perhaps not be excessive, the sentencing judge “fell into error” in the makeup of that sentence.

It was argued that the period of 13 years as a custodial term was a “severe sentence” and “excessive in the circumstances”.

Counsel for the appellant urged the court to reduce the custodial term and thereby enable a longer extension period.

But the appeal judges said they could not disagree with the trial judge’s categorisation of this persistent course of offending.

Delivering the opinion of the court, Lord Menzies said: “The sexual abuse of the appellant’s daughter was indeed exceptionally serious in our view and as observed the appellant then went on to rape his daughter, attempted rape and then rape of the niece.

“These are very serious offences and we cannot agree with the submission that the sentence was excessive or that the trial judge fell into error in the makeup as between custodial and extension periods. For these reasons, we shall refuse this appeal.”

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