Humza Yousaf wades into child rapist row after Rowling slams Scotland

Humza Yousaf has waded into the row over the sentencing of a child rapist in Scotland. Sean Hogg, who raped a 13-year-old schoolgirl, avoided prison due to him being under 25 years of age. He was handed a 270-hour community sentence.

Hogg raped the girl on multiple occasions at Dalkeith Country Park in Midlothian when he was 17.

The judge in charge of sentencing, Judge Lord Lake, said that if the offence had been committed by an adult over 25, Hogg would have received a jail sentence of four or five years.

Speaking to reporters at a visit in Aberdeen on Tuesday, Mr Yousaf said he “understood” the concerns people had raised, but that he had to be “careful” as the First Minister should not intervene in sentencing decisions.

The First Minister said it was an “exceptional case” and in the vast majority of cases where someone is convicted of rape, they end up with a custodial sentence.

Earlier today, Harry Potter author JK Rowling blasted the SNP’s “Progressive Scotland” for the outcome.

She said: “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.'”

Speaking earlier today, Mr Yousaf added: “I can understand again why people are concerned about this particular case, but it’s so important that the government doesn’t intervene or interfere in decisions made by our judiciary.

“The sentencing guidelines are determined not by government ministers, but rightly so by the Sentencing Council, which is led by the judiciary.

“Generally when I was justice secretary, rehabilitation and rehabilitating offenders was an important issue.

“We don’t want people to be in that revolving door of going from prison, out in the community and back again.

“But of course in this case, in a case where someone’s been convicted of rape, I can completely understand the concerns that people have got about the sentence that has been given in this particular case, but again it is for the judiciary to make a determination the same as it is for the Crown to independently make a decision about whether to challenge that as being unduly lenient or not.”

New guidelines for sentencing under 25s were introduced at that start of 2022 in Scotland, with 71 per cent of people rejecting the proposal at the consultation stage in 2020.

They were developed by the Scottish Sentencing Council, a body set up by the SNP.

The council pointed to research which said the brain doea not fully develop until the age of 30, and for under-25s rehabilitation was highlighted rather than punishment.

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