I have heard a lot of comment about this matter so thought it worth a blog. I think it important to set this debate in to context so refer you to the Judges’s sentencing remarks so that you can see the details of the indictment and the aggravating/mitigating features here.
You will see that there were 13 victims whose ages at the time of the offences range from 9 to 17. This is important as some of the victims were below 13 making the maximum sentence 5 years under the 1956 Act. The Indictment contained 2 counts (count 16 and 18) involving a victim under 13 making the sentencing open to a maximum of 5 years. Count 16 involved the youngest child, aged 9. Mr Hall was a dinner guest at her parents home and whilst reading her a bedtime story he put his hand under her bedclothes and onto her leg moving it towards her vagina. From a legal indecency point this is not seriously indecent but the age of the child and the abuse of trust elements make it more serious.
But the question is: was 15 months unduly lenient for this offence? The AG is considering this and may refer the matter to the Court of Appeal. There are some counts which have low level indecency but others with quite serious levels of indecency. Count 6 was significantly more serious. It involved a 13 year old girl who was subjected to a series of sexual indignities at Mr Hall’s home on Boxing Day 1976.
The victim had been drinking and was sick and he went to the bathroom and touched her naked breasts, inserted a finger in her vagina and kissed her upper body and touched her all over. Mr Hall was sentenced to 15 months for this offence. There is arguably personal mitigation but very little or no offence mitigation. The Judge has properly tempered the personal mitigation when addressing length of sentence. There are many who will be abhorred by the digital penetration of a 13 year old, but at the time of the offence the maximum sentence was 2 years. So, some may think that the 1956 legislation was unduly lenient and not the sentencing Judge.