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HMA v Reginald Maxwell


Mar 15, 2022

At the High Court at Edinburgh today, Lord Boyd of Duncansby imposed a community sentence on Reginald Maxwell after the offender was found guilty of sexual abuse. A probation order was made with a supervision requirement for a period of three years and a work requirement of 240 hours. Further conditions were imposed for the protection of the complainers and to address problems of addiction.

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

“Reginald Maxwell, you have been convicted of two charges of sexual abuse of two girls. The offences happened between 1977 and 1980. The age range of your victims was between 6 and 10 years old. You were aged between 12 and 15 years of age.

The most serious charge is the first one. It includes abuse, which would now be classed as rape. As to the second charge on which you were convicted the Crown made significant deletions in light of the evidence.

No one now doubts the psychological effects such abuse can have on the victims and that is particularly so when they are young children. The fact that the victims in this case have come forward after all these years demonstrates the lasting effect that your abuse has had on them. It is no small matter to confront these issues and the complainers are to be commended for their bravery in coming forward and reliving their experience.

The jury acquitted you of two more serious charges of rape and abuse when you were between the ages of 17 and 19. Had you been convicted of these I would have had little option to impose a custodial sentence. You should be in no doubt however that these are serious offences.

The fact is however that you were a child at the time of these offences. I heard evidence that painted a disturbing picture of your upbringing. Your father died when you were 12 years old. Your mother was an alcoholic. The household in which you lived had little or no adult supervision. There were no boundaries and you and other children were mostly left to look after themselves. You were yourself thrust into a position where you had to assume some parental responsibility.

I am also in no doubt that you were yourself the victim of abuse. That is not an excuse but it is clear to me that the context of your offending was one of adverse childhood experiences. I am also in no doubt that this has a long term impact on you.

You are now 57 years old. You were married for 34 years. I am told that the marriage ended because of your alcohol abuse. You had a good job which you lost in about 2017 because of poor health. Your record includes a conviction in 1984 for assault for which you were fined. It is, however, significant that you accepted advice from a police officer and moved away from the area to avoid their influence. Since then, apart from two convictions for drunk driving, you have stayed out of trouble.

As counsel has reminded me you have raised and supported a family. Once you lost your job you volunteered with a local charity. There is no suggestion of any further offending by you.

I am satisfied that you do not pose a threat of further offending.

While I must sentence you as an adult I have to bear in mind that you were a child at the time. Recent work on youth offending has influenced sentence guidelines. In particular research has shown that young people are not fully developed and have not attained full maturity. They are less likely to make appropriate decisions.

These factors are particularly important in the context of your offending in a household with no apparent boundaries being set by responsible adults. You have shown a capacity to change but I consider that work needs to be done with you to address problems which have clearly followed you from childhood.”


A probation order was made with a supervision requirement for a period of three years and a work requirement of 240 hours. Further conditions were imposed for the protection of the complainers and to address problems of addiction.

15 March 2022