Harry Potter creator JK Rowling led a chorus of outrage on Tuesday after a child rapist was spared jail despite attacking a 13-year-old girl. The best-selling author and women’s rights campaigner said the judge had told predators the “first time’s free” by sparing Sean Hogg a jail term.
Hogg, 21, threatened the youngster, manhandled her, and forced her to perform a sex act before raping her in a country park.
But under new sentencing rules for under-25s in Scotland, the tearful defendant was given a 270-hour community sentence at the High Court in Glasgow.
Judge Lord Lake told him that if a defendant aged over 25 committed the offence, they would have been sentenced to four or five years’ prison.
He added: “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.
“Prison does not lead me to believe this will contribute to your rehabilitation.”
The writer tweeted afterwards: “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’.”
The new rules were introduced last year by the Scottish Sentencing Council after research suggested the brain did not develop fully until the age of 30.
But critics claimed the body – set up by the Scottish National Party – were sending out the wrong message.
Leading barrister Tommy Ross KC told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “It is an extraordinary sentence.
“I have been working in the high court for around 20 years and I have never seen anybody avoid prison for rape until Tuesday.”
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser added: “Welcome to SNP Scotland, 2023, where at 16 they want you to legally change gender.
“But you can rape a child and because you’re under 25 you can avoid jail.
Fellow Tory MSP Stephen Kerr wrote: “Latest SNP disgrace and another Nicola Sturgeon legacy: a Scottish justice system that lets violent criminals walk free.”
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