HMA v John Barbour

Mr John Barbour was sentenced to four years imprisonment after being found guilty of historical child sex offences on three charges.

These offences were found to be committed when he was a teenager. After an unsuccessful appeal to the High Court for the Crown, after they complained of a very lenient sentence, the accused sentence was upheld. The appeal Court accepted that this 4 year sentence was at the lower end of what was an accepted sentence but could not state that it was “unduly lenient”.

The Trial judge took in to account the fact that Mr Barbour was a teenager when these offences occurred, being only 13 on one of the charges and these offences occurred over 30 years ago. The Trial judges relied on the reasoning from Greig v HM Advocate 2013, that although the respondent had to be sentenced as an adult, that sentence had to take into account his age and relative immaturity, at the time of the offences.

The respondent was a family man who was married for 25 years and had grown up children. He had also worked in the same role for almost 30 years. The Criminal Justice Social Work report stated that he was not High Risk to the public and he had no previous convictions prior to his.

However, the Crown argued that the “abhorrent and seriousness nature of the crimes” committed against young girls had to be given more weight. In refusing the Crowns appeal, Lord Justice General said: “The test to be applied by this court, before it can interfere with a sentence of a trial judge is, of course, not just that the sentence was lenient, but that it was unduly so in the sense that it fell below the range of sentences normally regarded as appropriate for offences of the relevant kind. The court is not satisfied that this test has been met”