Following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court in June 2013, Lee Pearson, 28 from Rotherham, was convicted of rape, sexual assault and six counts of having sexual activity with a child. He was sentenced by Mr Recorder Lodge QC to six years’ imprisonment.
The facts are somewhat unclear, but the BBC reports that Pearson befriended two fourteen year-old girls in 2011. The abuse began several months later and lasted almost a year before one of his victims contacted the police.
The Attorney General’s office referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal as it was considered to be unduly lenient. It was argued on behalf of the AG that the sentence should be increased. We don’t yet have the judgment and so we cannot say on what grounds the sentence was said to be unduly lenient.
The Court of Appeal increased his sentence to one of twelve years, finding that the original sentence was unduly lenient. In increasing the sentence, Lord Justice Fulford said the twelve-year term reflected the “violence and coercion and degradation” that had accompanied the offences. He added, “It is clear from the evidence that he dominated these two young victims and used this coercion to maintain their compliance…He groomed these victims”.
The increase in sentence is pretty staggering, and is not something that happens often. Most recently, back in July 2013, Stuart Hall had his sentence doubled by the Court of Appeal from 15 months to 30 months, and in February 2012 Zephen Rollings had his sentenced increased from 5 to 10 years by the Court of Appeal having been found guilty of possession of a (loaded) firearm with intent to endanger life.
The sentencing guidelines for sexual offences can be found here. We don’t have full details of the offences, nor the mitigation, and so can’t comment on the dramatic increase, but we will update this post when the judgment and sentencing remarks are published.