Sentencing guidelines must be reviewed as a “matter of urgency” after a teenager who repeatedly sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl walked free from court, Scottish Labour has announced.
Despite being found guilty of repeated sexual assaults on the girl over two years, Christopher Daniel, an 18-year-old dental student from Glasgow, was granted an absolute discharge as he acted out of “inappropriate curiosity” and not sexual gratification, according to sheriff Gerard Sinclair.
The verdict at Dumbarton Sheriff Court was reached following a three-day trial, and means Daniel, who was between the ages of 15 and 17 at the time of the crimes, will not be placed on the sex offenders’ register or receive any penalty or conviction. This was disputed by the young girls’ parents, who have called for Daniel to be registered as a sex offender.
Following the decision, a statement released by the Judicial Office for Scotland reported that any recorded conviction for the offence would have “serious consequences in terms of the accused’s future career” and that Daniel was granted leniency because any sentence would probably mean he would “be unable to continue his university course.”
More than 17,000 people signed a petition calling for the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, to review the case.
Scottish Labour is now urging the Sentencing Council to develop new sentencing guidelines for sexual assault, particularly sentencing for those of a younger age.
In a letter to the council, Daniel Johnson, Labour’s justice spokesman, wrote:
“The response to the verdict and subsequent written report has been one of shock and confusion, not only from the public but also organisations like Scottish Rape Crisis.
“I am deeply concerned that as well as the distress the verdict has caused for the victim’s family, there is a risk of disillusionment and lack of confidence in our sheriffs.”
The mother of the victim concluded:
“Hopefully these proposed changes to sentencing guidelines may lead to something positive coming out of this but we will see.”
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