Life sentence with 23 year minimum term for prolific paedophile Richard Huckle

Life sentence with 23 year minimum term for prolific paedophile Richard Huckle

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Image from Sky News

On 6 June 2016, Richard Huckle, aged 30, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 23 years following guilty pleas to 71 counts of serious child sexual offences.

What happened?

There is plenty of detail in this Sky News report and this BBC News report however in essence, the facts are as follows. Huckle, over a period of eight years:

a. raped numerous children of varying ages, from infant children, toddlers and pre-teen children;

b. he filmed and photographed many of his offences and shared the images with other sexual offenders via the dark web;

c. he possessed 20,000 indecent images of children (still and moving);

d. used images of him raping a young girl aged 3 to raise money on a crowd-funding website; and

e. produced what was described as a “paedophile’s handbook” advising others how to avoid having their criminal activities detected.

He worked with churches and schools having undergone a teaching course with the British Council. He committed many offences in Malaysia and Sky News reported that he used the teaching as a cover to commit many of his offences.

In relation to his activity on the dark web, he was found to have commented:

 “It’s quite amazing to have stuck with the same child lover for so many years and I hope, from the images you have seen, enjoyed watching her grow.

“It’s not often in child porn you can compare the bodies of a 5yo and a 12yo that are the same girl. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more sex with (her) in the future.”

Conviction

Huckle was reportedly due to stand trial at the Old Bailey, however he subsequently pleaded guilty to the offences. As the offences were committed (largely) abroad, the question arises as to how he can be prosecuted and sentenced in the UK.

In 2003, Parliament changed the law, enabling the prosecution of offences committed outside of the UK where they would constitute offences under English law.

Huckle pleaded guilty to 71 counts including rape of a child under 13.

Sentence

The judge was of course required to impose a sentence on each count (or impose no separate penalty), but of course the ‘headline’ is the effect of all of those sentences:

Huckle will serve a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 23 years. Life sentences were imposed on 22 of the 71 counts.

The judge, HHJ Peter Rook QC – who has particular expertise in trying and sentencing in sexual offences cases – said “It is very rare indeed that a judge has to sentence sexual offending by one person on such a scale as this.”

Comment

We predicted a life sentence – that seemed rather obvious given the gravity of the offences giving rise to the inevitable conclusion that Huckle is a very dangerous individual requiring a sentence of life imprisonment. However the difficult task in this case was determining the minimum term. We suggested, first, it would be in excess of 15 years and then, after reading more information in the press, that it would be in excess of 20 years. 

The minimum term is (usually) half of the period which would have been imposed had a life sentence not been passed. This is because there is a need to reflect the effect of the release provisions which do not apply to life sentences: under a ‘normal’ determinate sentence, a prisoner will serve half in custody and half on licence. So when a judge says “10 years” it means 5 in, and 5 out. Where a life sentence is imposed, those release provisions do not apply, and the judge sets a minimum term, requiring the prisoner to serve at least the minimum term, so when a judge sets a minimum term of 10 years, it means (at least) 10 years in prison.

So, in this case, a 23 year minimum term is equivalent to a 46-year determinate term. However, Huckle pleaded guilty, and so the starting point is likely to be between 10 and 33% higher than that. We would anticipate the reduction for the guilty plea to be less than the usual full third for pleading guilty early due to the overwhelming evidence in this case. In any event, we are looking at a starting point of in excess of 50 years, and probably a fair bit higher than that.

Accordingly, we suspect there will be an appeal, simply because sexual offending on this scale has not been seen before and so the judge had little by way of guidance – the guidelines do not assist and there is no case law from the Court of Appeal. However, that said, these appear to be such serious offences, committing in almost every aggravating circumstance of which it is capable to conceive, that a successful appeal must look unlikely.

If – or when – the sentencing remarks are published, we will have a look to see if anything contained therein changes anything we have had to say.

 

21 COMMENTS

  1. Ray Teret got a determinate sentence of 25 years i.e. 12 and a half years in custody, and the same period on licence at risk of recall.

    This sentence is life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years (the 23 year figure being after remand time is credited). So that is a minimum of 25 years, and probably much longer, in custody before release on licence.

  2. Didn’t that singer Ian Watkins get a minimum term of 35 years? Not that there’s much to choose between them in terms of depravity but it’s curious that this guy got a lesser sentence when it sounds like he was even worse, or at least more prolific.

    • Watkins’ behaviour was with an actual baby so the sentencing may ratchet up with decreasing age. That was the source of my query about Teret. His crimes were all with post-pubescent females approaching the AoC (he was found not guilty of 60% of the serious charges the CPS brought). His behaviour seems on a whole different level to this Huckle guy – a wholly different crime in fact, given the details. It’s easy to see how back in the day CH4 imagined Gary Glitter facing the death penalty, with the sort of escalation that seems demanded by the draconian sentencing occurring at the less serious end of criminal sexual behaviour. (six years for Adam Johnson)

      • My mistake, I got it wrong about Watkins – just looked it up and 35 years was the total term. His minimum term was 20 years, so slightly less than Huckle, and Watkins didn’t get a life sentence. So, apologies, my previous comment was wrong.
        I’ve never heard of Ray Teret before but from a cursory Google I gather he was a friend of Jimmy Savile. But Teret was charged with rape, so presumably it wasn’t just a case of consenting underage sex as in the Adam Johnson case.

        • Rape as in statutory, aggravated by grooming. As I mentioned, he was hit by a numerically massive charge sheet, after nearly teo years of answering bail and featuring in the newspapers as “Savile’s driver” or “Savile’s mate”, and 60% of the rape allegations resulted in a not guilty verdict.

          • Well like I said, I don’t know much about the Teret case, but one of the news reports describes one of the victims as saying “no” and making it clear to him that she didn’t want the sexual activity to happen, so that definitely sounds like rape, not statutory rape.

    • What puzzles me is what causes men (usually men) to do these things if the press are to be believed his parents were horrified when they discovered what he’d done. As it would appear that he himself was not abused what was it that acted as the catalyst?

      • We have no idea whether he was abused or not – even if his parents didn’t others may have done. And you know what? it does not make the slightest bit of difference.
        It is probable that throughout history there have been men – mainly – who have felt an unhealthy interest in children and – through fear of punishment or because one side of their minds tell them that it is wrong or both – simply don’t do it, possibly leading celibate lives.
        In which case all credit to them. It’s not their fault that they feel such desires; it is the fault of those who act on them that they do.
        I feel a special sort of sorrow for his parents, his siblings if any, and their children if any. Imagine knowing that someone close to you in blood, someone perhaps of whom you’d been fond, had done such things.

      • Apparently many paedophiles are aware of their inclinations from quite early on (adolescence or even late childhood). Some have a sufficient moral compass to recognise the wrongness of acting on it, others are prevented by circumstances or fear of getting caught. This case was probably a toxic combination of innate inclination, lack of moral compass, and circumstances that allowed him to continue his crimes unchecked for so long.

      • I saw an interview with investigative reporter/former policeman Mark Williams-Thomas on this subject. He said he would never let offenders use the excuse that they were abused as children. Because if something that horrific happened to you, why on Earth would you then want to inflict the same thing on someone else?
        In fact, he also went on to say that most offenders he’d come across had not been molested when they were kids.
        Perhaps there is no “catalyst” as such. It could just be the way their brains are wired. I remember watching a show many years ago, where they analysed the brains of killers/psychopaths and they did find certain anomalies. Not least a lack of activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions. Maybe there is a similar thing here.

          • Take your sympathies and empathy for people who abuse children and or other adults, who tell the abused how they feel and what to feel, and go peddle it to those who wish to believe this claptrap because it suits their agenda.

          • @LES
            You are the one telling people how they must feel.

            The reason folk in the legal fraternity will feel Clancy’s research to be dangerous is that it would mean the entire legal approach to child abuse is based on a false premise. It would also mean that all the Mislit festering on the bookshelves are fundamentally fiction. That is why she is so dangerous. Your dogma is challenged. Turning your face against reason and fact just makes you a modern form of the Catholic Inquistion, as I’m sure you are only too well aware, and that self-knowledge just makes you angrier.

  3. To be fair to the author of “The Trauma Myth”, judging by the Amazon reviews it doesn’t sound like she is saying it’s a myth that sexual abuse is traumatic, she’s just saying the trauma may not show itself the way people might expect. I don’t know if that’s true or false but I don’t think the author is just some paedophile apologist (though her editor should probably have chosen a different / less “provocative” title…).

  4. L-E-S Moor Larkin’s post inspires a vision of you at your keyboard in the robes of the Grand Inquisitor tapping out a denunciation of some evil heretic who will shortly be carted off to a dungeon and never seen again.
    .
    Let me know if you have a vacancy for a co-adjutor.
    .
    In siblinghood as ever!
    .
    .
    Moor Larkin: Chill.

  5. Some idiot bloke yes you @moorlarkin preach your bullshit all you want. That’s all it is. And while you know nothing about me, despite your attempt pseudo-profundity, men like you are everywhere creepy, pervy like a flesh eating virus.

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