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HMA v Sean McGowan


Sep 7, 2020

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Matthews sentenced Sean McGowan to 8 years and 3 months imprisonment after the offender pleaded guilty to rape.


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

“You pleaded guilty at a First Diet to the prolonged and horrific rape of a young woman. You tied her up with cable ties, forcibly removed her lower clothing, and sexually penetrated her vagina and anus with what are described as unknown objects. It is possible that you used your fist and I am prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt and accept that that was the case, as you say. Nonetheless this caused your victim intense pain to the extent that her genitals became numb. Thereafter you raped her anally and vaginally.

Eventually you cut the cable ties from her wrists and ankles, after an ordeal which had lasted, on one account which she gave up to two hours, although I am prepared to accept that her earlier estimate of between 30 and 60 minutes is likely to be more accurate.

Nonetheless even that earlier estimate is a considerable length of time.

The effects on the victim have been described as life-changing. They were fully detailed on the last occasion this case called. She was admitted to hospital where she was found to have a full thickness laceration extending to 6 cm into the posterior vagina through the perineum and anal sphincter into the rectum where it measured 8 cm with a maximum depth of 4.5 cm. There was open communication between the vagina and rectum. The injury was repaired by suturing and a colostomy bag was fitted. She remained in hospital till 10 March and while there had to be treated for acute pain. She was discharged with laxatives, sleeping tablets and other medication and with the colostomy bag still in place. She was readmitted on an emergency basis on 19 March and remained until 24 March. She awaits further corrective surgery and it is hoped that the colostomy can be reversed. The future is, though, uncertain and she may have difficulty with incontinence and pain. She will have scarring which may cause difficulty with sexual intercourse and child bearing.

I have listened to all that has been said on your behalf and read the report. Whatever may have been the background to all of this, in terms of your sexual relationship with your victim, is of no consequence. People may consent or withhold consent on each occasion that sexual activity is proposed whatever may have happened in the past and the courts must respect that autonomy. In any event nothing in the past came close to the circumstances of this offence. The fact that a large amount of drink had been consumed is no excuse.

I note that your victim has been corresponding with you in prison and expressed a desire to see you. That is entirely a matter for her but it does not detract from this awful crime.

You have a limited record and I attach no weight to it.

Had this case gone to trial I would have imposed a sentence of imprisonment for 11 years.

As it is, in view of the plea, the sentence will be one of 8 years and 3 months, with 9 months of that attributable to the aggravation.

Given the contents of the report, your relative lack of record and the availability of programmes in prison, I am not satisfied that an extended sentence is necessary.

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

Taking account of the length of the sentence and what I am told of the complainer’s attitude I do not consider it necessary to impose a non-harassment order.”

7 September 2020