Wayne Whitworth sentenced for historic sex offences

Wayne Whitworth sentenced for historic sex offences




Flicking through the BBC headlines, this story about Wayne Whitworth caught my eye. Mr Whitworth is not a celebrity, and there’s no great legal significance in his case, just one of the far too many cases that go through our Courts, leaving a trail of misery in its wake.

In short, he was sentenced to five years in prison for “three counts of rape of a girl under 16 and three of indecent assault of a girl under 14″. The facts aren’t set out in any great detail, but the “Police said he had “systematically” abused his victim, who came forward in 2013, over a three year period.

So far so good. There was a guilty plea, but we don’t know at what stage, but nothing out of the ordinary particularly about a five year sentence for this sort of offending.


Misreporting by omission?

What caught my eye was this. The headline reads “Man jailed for 1980s teen rape and indecent assault” before going straight on to say that Mr Whitworth was now aged 41. 

Now, by my maths that means that if the offences finished in 1989, then Mr Whitworth would have been aged from 13 to 16 during their commission. That puts a very different perspective on it. He was a youth at the time, and very different sentencing guidelines apply.


What are the guidelines?

The Sentencing Council has now issued two sets of definitive guidelines for sexual offences. The latest was from earlier this year.

What is very clear however, is that these guidelines do not apply to offenders under 18. There are references to certain offences within those guidelines (see page 151) but these are mainly for cases where there is factual consent.

What is clear is that a youth will get a substantially lower sentence than an adult. In a case such as this, it may well be half, if not less than that.

On this basis, after a discount for a plea of guilty, we would be looking at a starting point of about 16 years. This puts it right in the most serious bracket (see the table at page 11). This is on the basis that he was aged 13-16. It may be that he was younger than that, which makes the sentence even more severe.

At the time, there was the principle of doli incapax – the idea that for someone aged 14 it had to be proved that, in addition to the ‘usual’ elements of a crime, the young person knew that what he was doing was not just wrong, but ‘seriously wrong’ (there’s a good overview in the House of Lord’s case of JTB [2009] UKHL 20). This may be thought to be pretty hard twenty or thirty years down the line.



We don’t know enough about the facts of this case to comment on the sentence. Unless the facts are extreme, we would expect an appeal for the reasons set out above.

The increasing number of prosecutions for historical sex offences raises various issues, many of which have been played out in the media.

One aspect that hasn’t been considered yet is what to do with allegations against people who were teenagers at the time. This raises a whole further set of issues, none of which are easy to resolve. On current showing, this is not an issue that will go away anytime soon.

Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. These cases, in my view, are part of the massive over-reach of what is now a thoroughly corrupt legal system that is willing to persecute people for trivial crimes and non-crimes simply in order to justify their careers; in many cases, presenting false evidence to the courts and, most certainly, false evidence to the public.

    It’s all part and parcel of the huge power grab being undertaken by western governments – and their workers – all over the world; using many techniques, e.g. increased surveillance.

    We are told, for example, that terrorism is a very serious threat, and we know that serious crimes and serious anti-social behaviours are still taking place, including massive amounts of child abuse – if the figures are to be believed. And yet the police and the Crown Prosecution Service pour huge resources and time to search for mostly, relatively trivial, personal crimes that happened decades ago, and which are of zero significance today.

    We also know that they are using dishonest techniques – including the encouragement of the fabrication of evidence and the promise of significant compensation – in order to get convictions.

    They are also destroying the fabric of our society and creating more havoc throughout – as just one example of the latter, they are discouraging men from entering the teaching profession and the medical; leaving the boys adrift both in the educational system and the youth services – which has many, long-term negative consequences for all of us; and, of course, more crime.

    Making close relationships between men, women and children more insecure and less likely to form is how governments and MILLIONS (no exaggeration when considering the west as a whole) of their workers make their living.

    It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book; e.g.


  2. I know this guy personally and while he might not be the nicest of people he was also abused by his own father who was prosecuted not long before he was. In my opinion, given the fact that he was abused by his own father from such a young age he should not be held to account as much as someone who knows different as he may have thought it was normal.