On 9 October 2015, The Daily Mail covered the story of Terry Bishop. Bishop had pleaded guilty to four offences including rape of a child under 13 and sexual assault of a child under 13.
Bishop had been serving a custodial sentence for previous child sexual offences, thought to be offences of indecent assault on female children under 16. He was released in 2015 and subsequently made contact with a mother and child, aged five.
The Mail reported that “After gaining the trust of the mother and her daughter, Bishop took the pair on trips to the beach, helped with shopping and was even able to attend the victim’s primary school to pick her up. The girl eventually revealed to her mother that Bishop had inappropriately touched her which sparked an investigation.”
There are no further details about the offence, such as the period of time over which the offence were committed, details about the offences themselves, the effect on the victim etc.
The judge concluded – perhaps unsurprisingly – that Bishop was dangerous within the meaning of the CJA 2003. The judge then had to consider whether a life sentence was called for, or whether the public would be protected by an extended sentence.
The judge imposed an extended sentence of 15 years – a 10 year custodial term and an extended licence of 5 years. It appears that this was a global sentence to cover all of the offending.
The effect of the release provisions is that he will serve 6 years and 8 months in prison before being able to go to the Parole Board to ask to be released. The Parole Board will only release him if they are satisfied that it is safe to do. If they decide it is not safe to release him, he could serve all of the 10 year period. Upon release, he will serve the balance of the custodial sentence on licence, plus the additional 5 years on licence.
The notification regime (‘sex offenders register”) applies.
Looking at the guidelines for rape of a child under 13 (see p.27) it is evident that such an offence is treated very seriously. The news articles make reference to “grooming behaviour” and so we can see that the offence would appear to fall into “Culpability A”.
Without further details about the offences, it is hard to assess the “Harm” category and consequently whether or not the sentence is lenient.
Of course the judge will have had to have made an increase to reflect the other offences (and any additional harm above that inherent in the offence), and then to have made a reduction for the guilty pleas. The starting point therefore appears to be at or around a figure of 15 years.
The police have refused to release an image of Bishop, stating that to do so would risk the identification of the victim (who of course receives automatic life long anonymity). Whilst we can print his name, we cannot print his photograph.
This is not an order of the court however.
The sentence would appear to be on the low side. The fact that Bishop had very recently been released on licence for child sexual offences before committing the offences is a seriously aggravating factor, as is the targeting and grooming used against the victim.
CJA 2003 s.265 prohibits the imposition of a sentence consecutive to a sentence from which an offender has been released. For this reason, Bishop’s sentence will commence immediately and he will therefore be eligible for release in 6 years and 8 months time. For this reason, we would have expected a lengthy uplift in the sentence to reflect the fact the offence was committed on licence.
There is no mention of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order being imposed. While some might say that such an order is not necessary as Bishop will be in prison for at least the next 6 years 8 months, my personal view is that an order might be necessary to stop him communicating (or attempting to communicate) with children whilst in prison, among other activities.
Of course, cases turn on their own facts and we are not in possession of the full details, however, on the information we have, this sentence appears to be at the bottom of range of what we would have expected.