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HMA v Garry McDonald


Nov 24, 2021

At the High Court at Edinburgh today, Lord Boyd sentenced Garry McDonald to an extended sentence of 12 years after the offender was found guilty of rape and other offences. The custodial part of the sentence is 10 years with 2 years extended.


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

“In around February 2019 you joined a dating website. You pretended to be a female named Claire, an 18 year old university student. You posted a female persona and a picture of a young woman which you have obtained from the internet. You used this fiction to persuade two vulnerable young men to meet you.

You met the first complainer on the website. You and he started texting. He believed that he was texting Claire. The content of some of the texts was sexual and you led him to believe that if he met Claire it might be a sexual encounter. Knowing this he travelled to Falkirk expecting to meet Claire but in fact meeting you. You told him that there was no Claire and that he was to come with you to your house. When he got there you detained him against his will and raped him.

You met the second complainer on the website. He too thought he was in text communication with Claire. Using your Claire persona you enticed him into a bizarre deal to the effect that if he had sex with Claire’s friend she would then become his girlfriend and have sex with him. You then arranged to go to his house posing as Claire’s friend and persuaded him to go through with his part of the deal on the promise that if he did so he would finally meet Claire.

This was a young lonely very vulnerable young man with learning and other difficulties. He craved love and affection. But even then his reluctance to go through with his part of the deal is quite apparent from the text messages between him and yourself posing as Claire. On no view could what have happened in the house on 16 May 2019 be described as consensual. The jury by their unanimous verdict agreed.

Thereafter you continued with the deception that Claire would meet him and be his girlfriend. You tried to get him to have further sexual encounters. At one point you even suggested that Claire would go to the beach with him and others. In reality this was simply another way of living through your own fantasies.

It is clear that even although he never met Claire he was obsessed by this fictional character. He told Claire he loved her.

What you did to this vulnerable young man was cruel, deceitful and wicked. You showed no sympathy or emotion for either complainer. You never once told them the truth or showed any concern for their emotional wellbeing or their welfare.

It was a carefully planned course of criminal conduct designed to lure young men into having sex with them without their consent.

In 2012 you were convicted of being concerned in the supply of drugs into a prison while you were a prison officer. You were convicted in the High Court and were sentenced to 54 months imprisonment. While I accept that it is not an analogous to the present offences it is concerning that this is the second conviction for very serious offending.

I have listened carefully to everything that has been said on your behalf. I have also read the character references. You have a supportive and loving family. Apart from the time in prison for drug offences you have a good work record. Your period on licence from your last sentence was successful. You built up a life after your release from prison and appeared to have been doing well. You are a kind and supportive boss. I accept what your counsel has said that you should be well equipped to gain employment on your release from prison. It is however of concern that what are normally regarded as protective factors did not inhibit you from carrying out these serious offences.

The social work report records that the risk assessment tool used for the report indicates a minimal level of risk. It also noted however that it is apparent that you target and pose a risk to young men.

In my opinion this assessment demonstrates the limitations of risk assessment tools. It is clear to me from the targeting of vulnerable young men and the degree of planning, deception and grooming which you pursued that you pose a significant threat to the public at large and in particular vulnerable young men. For that reason I am satisfied that the risk criteria for the imposition of an extended sentence is met.

Had I been sentencing you on individual charges I would have imposed the following custodial sentences. On charge 2 the sentence would have been 7 years. I would have imposed a concurrent sentence of one year on charge one.

On charge 5, I would have imposed a sentence of 8 years with concurrent sentences of 3 years on charge 3 and one year on charge 4.

It is clear that were I to make these custodial sentences consecutive the result would be excessive. Accordingly I shall impose a cumulative extended sentence of 12 years, of which the custodial part shall be 10 years with 2 years extended.

The sentence shall be backdated to 22 October 2021.

As a result of your conviction and the sentence imposed you are subject to the notification requirements under Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period.

The clerk of court will serve upon you a notice confirming those requirements with which you must comply.”

24 November 2021