A judge may decide to publish a statement after passing sentence on an offender in cases where there is particular public interest; where a case has legal significance; or where providing the reasons for the decision might assist public understanding.

Please note that statements may include graphic details of offences when it is necessary to fully explain the reasons behind a sentencing decision.  

Follow us if you wish to receive alerts as soon as statements are published. 

Once charges are spent, any statement in relation to them is removed and cannot be provided or acknowledged. Statements published before the launch of the website may be available on request. Please email

The independence of the judiciary is essential to safeguard people’s rights under law - enabling judges to make decisions impartially based solely on evidence and law, without interference or influence from the government or politicians.

When deciding a sentence, a judge must deal with the offence that the offender has been convicted of, taking into account the unique circumstances of each particular case. The judge will carefully consider the facts that are presented to the Court by both the prosecution and by the defence.

For more information about how judges decide sentences; what sentences are available; and matters such as temporary release, see the independent Scottish Sentencing Council website.

Read more about victims of crime and sentencing.

Read more about civil judgments.

HMA v Derek Lincoln or Birks, also known as John Green


Aug 7, 2020

At the High Court in Glasgow today Lord Matthews sentenced Derek Lincoln or Birks, also known as John Green to 11 years and 6 months imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to child abuse.

On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

“You have pleaded guilty to a sickening catalogue of child abuse, the details of which were contained in an agreed narrative which was read on the last occasion you appeared in court. I am not going to repeat what was said then.

Putting matters shortly, you had two victims, both young girls, in respect of whom you were in a position of the utmost trust. You were all members of a so-called religious group and they had little contact with the outside world. They were entitled to look to you for love, care and protection but instead you used them for your own gratification.

As far as the first of these girls is concerned, the abuse started when she was about 9 or 10 and continued until she was 13, a period of nearly 4 years. You raped her numerous times and subjected her to other degrading sexual practices, including sodomy, on many occasions. After the first rape, which she described as a painful and terrifying experience, she perceived that she had changed inside, stating that a light had gone out inside her. She became distant from the other children and unable to interact with them. They reacted by calling her “the weird kid”. She would lie in bed waiting for you to come into her room and could not sleep even when you did not. As well as being violent towards her when you sexually abused her, you were physically violent towards her at other times, hitting her with your hand, a switch, a belt and  other objects, throwing her over a fence and putting tape over and soap into her mouth. At one point she tried to kill herself by drinking what she thought was turpentine but it only made her ill and she was forced to stay in an attic room. It did not stop there. When she was about 16 she woke to find you on top of her again and fortunately she was able to push you off.  The effect on her of all this is incalculable.

The abuse of your other victim occurred between 1 January 1989 and 31 October 1992. She was not quite 7 on 1 January 1989 and was still only 10 on 31 October 1992 You would regularly touch her in the ways described in the narrative and simulate sexual intercourse with her to her obvious distress.

I am told that you have expressed remorse. I have no idea if that is genuine or not, although I will give you credit for pleading guilty. You would tell your victims that you were sorry but you continued to abuse them. You also gave them gifts, as if anything could make up for what you were doing.

When you were interviewed by the author of the Criminal Justice Social Work report, who was trying to find out why you did this, your response was that it just happened. It did not just happen. You made it happen. You could have chosen to help these little girls to have a happy childhood and prepare for adolescence and adulthood in a loving, caring environment but instead you stole their innocence and sacrificed their dreams on the altar of your own perverted desires.

I have listened to what has been said on your behalf and considered the terms of the report. There is and can be no mitigation in this case. All that can really be said is that you pleaded guilty. You are elderly now and have a number of medical difficulties but you have had a long life. You ruined the lives of your victims.

Had this case gone to trial I would have imposed a sentence of imprisonment for 13 years in cumulo.

As it is, I will give you some credit for pleading guilty. Your plea was offered just before the trial diet, albeit the trial could not go ahead at that stage. You will go to prison for 11 years and 6 months in cumulo to run from 4 October 2019.

You will be subject to the notification provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.”

 (7 August 2020)