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HMA V Simon Bowes-Lyon


Feb 23, 2021

At Dundee Sheriff Court today Sheriff Carmichael sentenced Simon Bowes-Lyon to 10 months imprisonment after the accused pleaded guilty to a serious sexual assault.


On sentencing, Sheriff Carmichael made the following statement in court:

“You have pleaded guilty by way of section 76 procedure to a serious sexual assault.

This sexual assault was committed in your own home during a 3-day residential public relations event that was held there. The complainer was staying there while she attended this event.

It is clear from the agreed narrative that, whilst the complainer had spoken to you during this event, she had no sexual interest in you and had done nothing that could reasonably have been interpreted by you to the contrary.

She had gone to bed early because she had to leave early the next morning. This assault involved you going to her bedroom at about 01:20, persuading her to open the door of her bedroom and then pushing your way into the room and pushing her down onto the bed. You then grabbed her hard by a breast and nipple, tried to lift her nightdress up, followed her into the bathroom and stopped her from closing that door, followed her back into the bedroom, pushed her against a wall there, grabbed a nipple again (this time so hard that it was still sore the following day), grabbed her bottom and vagina, told her that you were going to, “f*** her”, and that she needed, “a shafting”, got in to bed with her, pulled at her, repeatedly shut the bedroom door when she tried to open it, continued to pull at her and tried to kiss her.

Throughout all of this she made it clear that she wanted you to stop. She told you repeatedly that she had a boyfriend, repeatedly told you to leave and repeatedly had to keep pushing you away from her. All of which you ignored. Once she’d finally managed to eject you from her bedroom, you returned to the door and pleaded with her to let you back in.

You were drunk.

The assault and your refusal to leave spanned some 20 minutes.

The complainer tried to contact friends by phone and by messaging until one of them answered at 01:40. She contacted the police as soon as she got home later that day.

The complainer was afraid and upset to the extent that she locked her door and wedged a chair under the handle after she got you out of her bedroom, and was left shaking by the end of it all. Even now - one year on - she still, occasionally, has nightmares and feels panicked because of being sexually assaulted by you. This has also had an impact on her emotional wellbeing.  

This sexual assault was made worse for several reasons: you were the complainer’s host and took advantage of this position, you forced your way past her to get in to her bedroom, you assaulted her in the face of her repeated verbal and physical protestations that you should stop, and you repeatedly prevented the complainer from getting away from her bedroom and from your unwanted attentions. The amounts of force, aggression and persistence that you used are concerning.

In mitigation; you apologised to her soon after the assault, you have expressed remorse, you have accepted responsibility for you actions, you have no previous convictions and you appear to be otherwise of good character.  

The seriousness of this sexual assault takes this crime over the custodial threshold and I must therefore consider imposing a custodial sentence.

The law requires that I therefore must also consider whether there is a non-custodial sentence that I could appropriately impose.   

The Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) report has assessed you as suitable for a Community Payback Order (“CPO”) that could include residence and conduct requirements as well as participation in the Moving Forward: Making Changes programme for sexual offenders and hours of unpaid work.  

Your home has been assessed as suitable for a Restriction of Liberty Order (ROLO).

There are therefore alternatives to custody available.

Are any of these appropriate for the sentence that is required in this case? The sentence must reflect, amongst other things, the gravity of this crime, the need for punishment, the need to adequately express society’s disapproval of such behaviour, the need to rehabilitate you and the need to deter others from similar offending in the future.

In my view the imposition of such a CPO and a ROLO, either individually or in combination, would not meet these requirements and would not be appropriate disposals. In particular, they would not address the gravity of this crime, they would not provide an adequate level of punishment, they would not adequately express society’s disapproval of such conduct, and they would not adequately deter others who may be tempted to behave in a similar way. The need for rehabilitation is outweighed by those other needs. The Moving Forward: Making Changes programme is available in custody and could, if started there, be completed when you are back at liberty.

This is a serious sexual assault. I will take account of the mitigations that were put forward on your behalf when fixing the level of sentence. I will also take account of your plea of guilty which has removed the need for a trial, and has meant that the complainer did not have to go through the experience of giving evidence.

The sentence would have been one of 15 months’ imprisonment, but I will reduce this, as the law requires me to do in view of your plea of guilty, to 10 months. This reduction results in a sentence of 12 months imprisonment or less but, as stated, there is no appropriate alternative to imprisonment.

The notification provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 that I told you last time had come into force for you, will remain in place for 10 years.”