Sean Hogg: man, 21, walks free from court after being convicted of raping 13-year-old girl in repeated attacks

Sean Hogg, 21, was found guilty of attacking the teenage girl multiple times following a trial at Glasgow High Court

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A 21-year-old man has avoided jail time despite being found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl.

Sean Hogg, from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, was found guilty of attacking the young teenager multiple times in Dalkeith Country Park between March and June 2018. Hogg was handed a community payback order of 270 hours for his crimes by Judge Lord Jonathan Lake at Glasgow High Court on Monday 3 April.

Court documents from the trial stated that Hogg, who was 17 at the time, had threatened the girl and pulled off clothing from her lower half, before grabbing her by the wrists and forcing her to perform a sex act on him. He then went on to rape the 13-year-old.

He was found guilty by a jury at Glasgow High Court, however avoided jail after Judge Lord Lake told the sex offender that he “didn’t intend to send him to prison”. It comes after new sentencing guidelines for under 25s in Scotland were introduced, which prioritises rehabilitation over incarceration.

The sentencing and lack of prison time for Hogg has been widely condemned. Rape Crisis Scotland called the punishment “worryingly lenient”, while the Scottish Tories have sparked calls for a review in the sentencing guidelines.

Child rapist Sean Hogg at the High Court in Glasgow. Credit: SpindriftChild rapist Sean Hogg at the High Court in Glasgow. Credit: Spindrift
Child rapist Sean Hogg at the High Court in Glasgow. Credit: Spindrift

Judge says prison ‘not appropriate’ for rapist Hogg

Hogg, who reportedly wept during the sentencing, was handed 270 hours of unpaid work for raping the 13-year-old girl. During the session, Judge Lord Lake described rape as “one of the most serious crimes”, adding that the age and vulnerabilities of the young victim were “aggravating factors.”

However, he told Hogg that he would not be facing prison time for his crimes. Judge Lord Lake said: “I don’t consider that appropriate and don’t intend to send you to prison.

“You are a first offender with no previous history of prison - you are 21 and were 17 at the time. Prison does not lead me to believe this will contribute to your rehabilitation.”

He added that if Hogg were to be over the age of 25, he would “attract a sentence of four or five years”. Alongside his community service, Hogg will also be placed on the sex offenders register for three years and be put under supervision.

Judge Lord Jonathan Lake. Credit: Judiciary of ScotlandJudge Lord Jonathan Lake. Credit: Judiciary of Scotland
Judge Lord Jonathan Lake. Credit: Judiciary of Scotland

The new guidelines for sentencing for under 25s were introduced by the Scottish Sentencing Council, however the final decision on sentencing still lies with judges. The guidance reads: “A custodial sentence should only be imposed on a young person when the court is satisfied that no other sentence is appropriate.

“If a custodial sentence is imposed on a young person, it should be shorter than that which would have been imposed on an older person for the same, or a similar, offence.”

Donald Findlay QC, defending, told the court that an appeal against the sentencing is planned. A spokesperson for the Crown Office said: “As with all cases, the Crown will consider the sentence and give consideration to whether it might be unduly lenient.”

Critics blast ‘soft-touch’ sentencing

The lenient punishment for Hogg has been roundly criticised. In a statement, Rape Crisis Scotland said: “We are shocked that the perpetrator of the rape of a 13-year-old girl has not received a custodial sentence. This is an extremely serious case.

“Given the gravity of this crime and the fact it was tried at the High Court, this sentence appears to us to be worryingly lenient. Our thoughts are with the survivor of this crime. For survivors of any sexual violence, it can be very difficult to see reports of convicted perpetrators walking free from court.”

The Scottish Tories justice spokesman, Jamie Greene, condemned the punishment and wrote directly to the newly-appointed Justice Secretary, Angela Constance, to urge a review of the sentencing guidelines. In the letter he said:  “It is outrageous and appalling that such a despicable crime has not even been punished with a prison sentence and the public will rightly be wondering why this has happened in this case.

“The soft-touch approach to justice taken by the Scottish Government is at least partially to blame in this instance.”

He added: “I implore you to order a review of these sentencing guidelines as is the Scottish Ministers’ right under Section 7 of the 2010 Act with a view to scrapping the guidelines so that rapists and other serious criminals do not avoid prison in future just because they are under 25.

“As a new Justice Secretary you have the ability to change the direction of Scottish Government policy to get tough on serious criminals who commit such horrific crimes and I hope you will consider my request today.”

First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf during a visit to a school holiday club at Ayr Academy in Ayr, to announce additional funding to support families.First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf during a visit to a school holiday club at Ayr Academy in Ayr, to announce additional funding to support families.
First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf during a visit to a school holiday club at Ayr Academy in Ayr, to announce additional funding to support families.

Newly-appointed First Minister Humza Yousaf has said that he understands the outrage but has insisted that it is a matter for “our judiciary”. During a visit to Aberdeen, Yousaf told reporters: “I can understand the concern people have raised. I have read some of the comments from Rape Crisis Scotland, expressing ‘astonishment’, I think was the word, at the sentence.

“But I also have to be quite careful. It was less than a week ago that I was in the Court of Session with the Lord President, who was rightly making the point that the judiciary is independent from government and ministers should not intervene in sentencing decisions.”

He added: “In the overwhelming majority of cases, where an individual is convicted of rape, they end up with a custodial sentence. Again, I can understand why people are concerned about this particular case, but it is so important doesn’t intervene or interfere in decisions made by our judiciary.”

The Rape Crisis Scotland helpline is open every night from 5pm to midnight. Call 08088 01 03 02, text 07527 410 027 (our text number will display on your bill), webchat on or email [email protected].

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