Michael Souter, a former BBC DJ, was convicted of historical sex abuse in 2013 and sent to prison for 22 years. We looked at the sentence at the time and said that there would probably be an appeal.
On 5th February 2015 it was reported that Mr Souter had lost his appeal against both conviction and sentence dismissed. Or rather, it seems that this was a renewed application to appeal that was refused.
We said that an appeal against conviction would not get anywhere, which is what passed. In relation to the sentence we said :
“the sentence is potentially too high on the general principle of totality … There is a concern that there is an element of ‘double counting’ in the sentence – the top of the top bracket is reserved for the ‘worst of the worst’ and factors in many of the aggravating features are ‘swallowed up’ in that (for example, a breach of trust is effectively inherent where the criminal offending is multiple rapes on the same victim).
In this case, it seems to me that a sentence more in the area of 17-19 years was appropriate, notwithstanding the seriousness of the offence. This would take the 15 year starting point with maybe a small increase, and shorter consecutive sentences for the other offences.”
But, we also said, “However, I would expect the Court of Appeal to uphold the sentence in the current climate. In any event, the sentence of 22 years makes sense when you know what the actual offences were“.
We only have the news reports, but it seems that the Court of Appeal were not impressed with the appeal, saying it was “without substance or merit“. In relation to the sentence, it was said : “This was indeed an appalling catalogue of sexual abuse of vulnerable victims over a protracted period. The applicant remains in denial. The sentence, though severe, accorded with sentencing practice, and appropriately reflected his culpability and the harm caused by his offending.”
We will keep an eye out for when the transcript is published (if it is) and return to look at this. One point that we noted is that it appears that the Judge made an unlawful order under s28 Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000. Presumably this was resolved before the Court of Appeal hearing today.