HMA v William Wright 2019

Mr Wright has had his appeal against conviction and sentence refused at the High Court of Justiciary. The appeal against sentence relied on the appeal against conviction being successful in this case. Mr Wright was found guilty after trial of historic sexual offences in relation to two school pupils ages between 12 and 16 at the time of the offences; including one charge of indecent assault.

The appellant was an ex music teacher and the offence that was appealed against was said to have happened with the school’s music department. The appellant argued in relation to part of the indecent assault charge there had been misdirection to the jury in relation to corroboration of this specific charge and this was a separate offence and not the same course of conduct as the other charges. As a result Mr Wright argued that his sentence should have been significantly lower. However, the Crown argued there was a continual course of conduct and although the abuse of the second pupil which this charge related to was considered more serve this did not mean it could not be part of the same course of conduct.

The Appeal Court agreed with the Crowns argument and stated by Lord Menzies, “In light of that clear statement of the law, and having regard to the particular facts and circumstances of the present case, we are unable to conclude that the trial judge misdirected the jury in the way submitted on behalf of the appellant. There was sufficient evidence before the jury to enable them to conclude that the oral penetration libelled in the last three lines of charge 3 formed part of the same continuing course of conduct perpetrated by the appellant against both complainers.” The appeal was therefore refused and the 4 year sentence for this charge remains.