We covered the case of Marus Marcussen was convicted on 10th February 2015 of 25 indecent assaults committed between 1957 and 1978 on 12 (or possibly 14) different victims. The case stirred a fair amount of interest due to the fact that the offences were so long ago and Mr Marcussen is now aged 91.
The maximum sentence for indecent assaults throughout this period was 2 years. There has been an extremely frustrating lack of details here. We know that victims were hit ‘with a ‘whale bone’ – an animal part said to have been used by Marcussen to instil discipline‘. Although this was legal at the time, the Judge indicated that this indicated a sadistic backdrop to the offence.
Other than that, we have that Mr Marcussen “routinely ran his hands over the bodies of naked boys in changing rooms“. Additionally, he “would grab undressed children in the changing room and pull them into his lap”.
The age of the victims aren’t clear, but it seems that they were over 13 at the time. Currently the offence would be Sexual Assault, with guidance at page 18 of the Sexual Offences guidelines.
It would be a 2A offence with a starting point of 2 years and a range of 1-4 years. Of course, account has to then be taken of the multiple offending. Even then, the sentence of 9 years is not likely to be justified by this. So, it may be that some or all of the victims were under 13 at the time.
This is a more serious offence, with guidelines at page 37. This is a starting point of 4 years, with a range of 3-7 years. This might account for the total sentence being 9 years.
More likely, is that the Judge took it to be a Category 1 offence on the basis of ‘violence or threat of violence’. This gives a starting point of 6 years (or 4 years if aged 13 or over). This might account for the total sentence of 9 years when bearing in mind the multiple victims (and the mitigating factors).
It is a case where it is really to be hoped that the sentencing remarks are published so that the full details can be analysed.
They will be an appeal against sentence. It’s one to watch as permission really should be granted given his age.
Two specific points are of significance –
Firstly, Mr Marcussen’s age. In the Stuart Hall AG Reference the Lord Chief Justice said “His age and level of infirmity, too, are relevant to the sentencing decision, but need to be approached with a degree of caution. In reality the offender has got away with his offending for decades. None of the adults to whom the children spoke of their fears or experiences would have dared to take on one of the most celebrated television personalities of the day. The offender must have known that“.
That was someone aged 83. It applies with greater force to someone aged 91 and it is interesting to know how the Court will deal with that. Whilst you cannot have an actuarial calculation, clearly one cannot ignore the fact that he will probably die in prison. Age was recognised as a mitigating factor in Hall, but we appear to be moving away from that. Here of course Mr Marcussen was in a position of trust, but was not a celebrity such as Mr Hall or Mr Clifford.
A second point is a more case specific one. The guidelines just mention ‘violence’ with no mention of whether it was lawful or not. This is sensible as, when the guidelines were drafted, the violence inevitably means unlawful violence. Is a Court entitled to take lawful violence into account in setting the Categorisation? It’s an interesting question, which it will be good to to see how it is tackled.