David Stewart MSP

David Stewart questions Lord Advocate


Highlands and Islands Regional Labour MSP David Stewart is quizzing Scotland’s top Prosecutor at Holyrood over the laws in place to protect the public from sexual predators.


Scotland’s Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini is meeting with MSPs today to explain the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the World’s End murder trial.


The 30 years old case against Angus Sinclair, a convicted double killer and paedophile who is currently serving a life sentence at Peterhead prison, was thrown out by the trial judge on the grounds of insufficient evidence.


Mr Stewart is pressing the Lord Advocate over what risk management procedures are in place to ensure that predators like Sinclair can not pose a risk to the public again.


“Since the Criminal Justice Act in 2003 those convicted of a serious violent, sexual or life threatening assault can be placed on an Order for Lifelong Restriction.


This means that offenders are assessed with a view to minimising the risks – including remaining in prison until the Parole Board is satisfied that the person can be released,” said Mr Stewart.


“Attempted murderer Colin Ross was the first person to be placed under an OLR following the appalling incident in the Highlands and it clearly shows we are by no means immune. We need to see that those convicted before 2003 face the same rigorous controls to safeguard the public.”


Mr Stewart is also to ask the Lord Advocate whether she will consider a review on allowing judges or juries sight of previous convictions where a defendant has a history of predatory sexual assault.


“My concern is that all possible measures are put in place to protect women from sexual predators and those who commit serious violent acts,” said Mr Stewart.


From the Official report of the Scottish Parliament 13th. September ’07

David Stewart (Highlands and Islands) (Lab): Does the Lord Advocate share my view that a case can be made for allowing juries sight of analogous previous convictions when defendants have a history of predatory sexual assaults? In the case of Angus Sinclair, what risk management procedures are in place in the event of his release to ensure that he never endangers the public again?

The Lord Advocate: In Scotland, evidence of a previous conviction can be admitted in the course of a trial only very rarely and in exceptional circumstances. That is not the case in many other jurisdictions, where evidence of similar fact, including previous convictions, may be introduced as part of the Crown case to show a disposition, particularly if the conviction relates to a similar crime. That is not the situation in Scotland. It would make my life as a public prosecutor easier if I could lead such evidence, but that is not to say that that is the correct approach. The matter must be considered objectively by the Government, the Parliament and others more widely so that a fair balance is reached. It would not be appropriate for someone who could be perceived as partisan to decide on such principles. Of course I would say that I want prosecutions to be made easier and to have more evidence available. My view is that allowing such evidence would enable more prosecutions to take place but, in a democracy, a balance must be struck by the Parliament rather than by prosecutors.

Mr Stewart asked about the risk management of Angus Sinclair. As Mr Stewart knows, Angus Sinclair is serving a sentence of imprisonment. He is not due to be paroled until 2016. That will be a matter for the Parole Board for Scotland. He is serving a number of life sentences and the Parole Board for Scotland will decide if or when he will be released on to the streets. That is not a matter for ministers, nor is it a matter for the prosecutor.




Written by davidstewart

September 14, 2007 at 7:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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