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A convicted rapist who was ruled ‘too young to send to jail’ fathered two children while awaiting trial, The Scottish Mail on Sunday can disclose.
The case of Sean Hogg sparked anger this month when he was spared a prison sentence despite being found guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Sentencing guidelines for criminals under the age of 25, imposed last year as part of ‘soft-touch’ reforms by the SNP, meant that, even though a judge ruled Hogg had committed ‘one of the most serious crimes’, he was not sent to jail but given a community payback order instead.
Critics, including Harry Potter author JK Rowling, said it was appalling that anyone found guilty of rape should escape a prison sentence.
Now the row has been reignited as we reveal that – despite being too young for jail – 21-year-old Hogg had a relationship with a woman and became a father to two children after being charged.
OUTCRY: Sex offender Sean Hogg, 21 walks free from court after he was ruled was ruled ‘too young to send to jail’
Harry Potter author JK Rowling (pictured) hit out at the appallingly lenient sentence
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene said the decision not to jail Hogg for raping a young girl sparked ‘understandable outrage’ across the country.
‘The revelation that he fathered children himself makes it all the more perplexing that he avoided prison on the grounds of being too young in the eyes of the sentencing guidelines,’ he said.
‘It’s absurd – and offensive to his victim – that Hogg has been spared jail simply for being under 25 because of an arbitrary guideline which the general public rightly feel is as unfair as it is irrational.’
He added: ‘SNP Ministers have the power to set the direction of travel of justice. That starts with giving judges the absolute and unimpeded power to impose sentences that are entirely appropriate to the crime committed.’
Hogg, from Hamilton, was 17 when he raped a 13-year-old girl in Dalkeith Country Park, in Midlothian, in 2018.
In July the following year he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in relation to the crime and was released on bail.
The Scottish Mail on Sunday can now reveal that three months later – while in a relationship with a young woman who was not the victim of his attack – he became a father for the first time.
In August 2020 he appeared at the High Court accused of rape but denied the charges. Within months – and with a string of sexual offence charges hanging over him – his then partner was pregnant for the second time and gave birth in the autumn of 2021.
At trial, Hogg was found guilty of pouncing on the vulnerable teenager at Dalkeith Country Park on a number of occasions between March and June 2018.
This month he appeared at the High Court in Glasgow to be sentenced. Although Hogg committed a serious crime and was convicted by a jury, the judge decided not to send him to prison because of his age and instead issued a community sentence.
New guidelines for sentencing criminals under the age of 25 were introduced in Scotland in January last year.
Rather than focusing on punishment, the guidelines made rehabilitation the priority and recommend that judges take an ‘individualistic approach’, considering offenders’ life experiences.
In Hogg’s case, Judge Lord Lake said rape was ‘one of the most serious crimes’ and that the victim’s age and vulnerabilities were ‘aggravating factors’. However, he told Hogg: ‘I have to consider your liability and have regard to your age as a factor.
‘For this offence, if committed by an adult over 25, you attract a sentence of four or five years.
‘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.’
As well as being sentenced to 270 hours of community work, Hogg was also placed under supervision and on the sex offenders register for three years.
Afterwards Ms Rowling joined the growing backlash and warned: ‘Progressive Scotland 2023, where a man gets no jail time for raping a 13-year-old girl in a park. Young Scottish men are effectively being told « first time’s free.’
In Hogg’s case, Judge Lord Lake said rape was ‘one of the most serious crimes’ and that the victim’s age and vulnerabilities were ‘aggravating factors’. However, he told Hogg: ‘I have to consider your liability and have regard to your age as a factor.’ Pictured: The High Court in Glasgow, Scotland
The Crown Office still has a couple of weeks to lodge a possible appeal against the leniency of Hogg’s sentence.
A spokesman said: ‘The Crown is currently considering whether there are grounds for lodging an appeal against this sentence.’
Meanwhile Hogg’s lawyer, Donald Findlay, KC, is considering lodging an appeal against his client’s conviction.
Last night Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: ‘This is a shocking case which sends entirely the wrong message to anyone considering reporting rape.
‘It can take a lot of courage to report and go through what can be a very difficult and prolonged justice process.
‘It is hard to think of any circumstances where community service for rape could ever be an appropriate sentence.’
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