On 7 November 2016, Stephanie Embley aged 35 was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment following a guilty plea to four counts of sexual activity with a child and a conviction for a further two counts.
As this is a sexual offence case, nothing can be reported which may lead to the identity of the victim(s) becoming known. Accordingly, as is usual, there are few details available.
The BBC report suggested that there were multiple victims however we have no further details on the nature of the offences. So in this case, we’ll have to work backwards; taking the four year sentence and looking at the guidelines to try and establish the type of behaviour that led to such a sentence. Of course this is very much approximate as we do not know the nature of the activity, the number of victims or the ages of the victims.
It would appear that the judge viewed these offences as really quite serious. That could be a combination of a number of lower level offences committed against a number of victims, or more serious offences committed against fewer victims. In either case the judge would have had regard to whether or not there was penetrative activity, and whether the offences were aggravated by factors such as grooming, the existence of vulnerabilities in the victim(s) and whether or not the offences were planned.
Considering the guideline, the judge could have arrived at a sentence of four years via numerous routes. Most notable about the sexual activity with a child guideline is the enormous jump between starting points in the category ranges 1A and 1B. For a penetrative offence (Category 1) with factors such as grooming or planning, the starting point is five years whereas without such factors the starting point is 1 year. In this regard, judges have to be cautious to ensure the sentence properly reflects the most serious aspect of the case, which may (or may not) be the additional factor of grooming etc.
Do women get lighter sentences?
Well, we cannot comment on the length of sentence, save to say it is of such a length that it is reserved for very serious examples of this type of offence. But what we can comment on, is the fact that here is a female offender and contrary to some views, she has not ‘got off lightly’.
Whether or not there will be an appeal depends entirely on the facts and we are in no place to comment. But this case serves as an example that female offenders do go to prison, and do go to prison for a long time.