27 September 2023

Crown Office admits ‘mistakes made’ in trial of rapist spared jail

27 September 2023

The conviction of a rapist spared jail due to his age will be reviewed after prosecutors admitted “mistakes were made” during his trial.

Sean Hogg, 22, was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl on various occasions in 2018, when he was aged 17.

He was spared jail by Judge Lord Lake at the High Court in Glasgow and was instead given 270 hours of unpaid work, although he said if Hogg was over 25, he would have been sentenced to four or five years behind bars.

Hogg claimed he was wrongfully convicted of the attacks in Dalkeith Park, Midlothian, and appealed.

The Crown Office had planned to challenge the “unduly lenient” sentence – however Scotland’s most senior judges will now review whether the conviction will be quashed, due to legal errors.

Both the advocate depute and the trial judge were identified as having failed to push for more detail or issue adequate directions to the jury, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh was told.

A decision will be revealed in due course, and solicitor Aamer Anwar, who represented the complainant, said his client “had told the truth”.

Solicitor General Ruth Charteris KC said: “The Crown’s position is clear, mistakes were made at the trial.

“The trial judge referred to distress in (one of the incidents), that was wrong.”

She said there was no evidence of penetration (in that incident), and there were issues with corroboration, “a factual error on behalf of the judge”, and that the Crown “sought to amend the verdict”.

Ms Charteris said there were “three main issues, the decision to direct the jury on distress, an error made in directions, and also the verdict returned by the jury”.

Judge Lord Matthews described some of the evidence as “worthless” and said: “There was a strong public interest in the trial being fair.”

Donald Findlay KC, representing Hogg, said: “There has been a miscarriage of justice. What happened was wrong and ended up with a verdict being allowed to stand, which should not have been allowed to stand.”

He added: “The Crown is trying to salvage something, that’s what this is an exercise in.”

Mr Anwar said in a statement that his client was “devastated” and had “told the truth”.

He said: “My client in April of this year was left devastated. As far as she is concerned, she came forward. She told the truth. She spoke up. She believes the police and the jury did its duty.

“There is much more she wishes to say, but it would be inappropriate to comment further until the appeal court issues its judgment.”

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