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HMA v James Henderson


Jan 12, 2024

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Lady Haldane sentenced James Henderson to an extended sentence of 18 years after he was found guilty of three charges of rape and a further charge of attempted rape. The sentence includes a 14 year custodial period and a 4 year extension at licence in the community. The offender has been banned from contacting the complainers and has been added to the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

On sentencing, Lady Haldane told Henderson:

“On 16th November 2023 you were convicted of three charges of rape in respect of three different women, and of attempting to rape a fourth.  Two of these women were raped repeatedly.  All were, to a greater or lesser extent, vulnerable. Two of the complainers have provided Victim Impact Statements which make clear the effect of your offending upon them.

You have a lengthy record of previous convictions, dating back to 2004, involving convictions for violence and sexual offences, some of which related to complainers in the present case.  Various disposals have been imposed, including imprisonment, but none of these have dissuaded you from further offending, often against women, and often in the context of relationships.

I have had the benefit of a Criminal Justice Social Work Report which makes for dispiriting reading.  You accept no responsibility for these offences, which is your right, but it means I can give you no credit for any remorse, or any insight into the effect of your offending upon the complainers.  You are recorded as saying that you do not trust women, and to have a blasé attitude to violence.  You appear to regard violence as acceptable and consider that no justification is required for resorting to violence.  You have breached numerous court orders, most significantly a sexual offences prevention order and a non-harassment order in respect of one of the present complainers.  You clearly therefore have shown a flagrant disregard both for the significance of these orders and perhaps more significantly the consequences of your breach of these orders for the complainers concerned.

The common theme underpinning your offending is your abuse of alcohol.  You freely admit that you have no intention of stopping drinking other than when sobriety is enforced upon you such as when you are in custody.  Your anti-authority stance is reinforced by your drinking and association with likeminded peers when at liberty.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you have been assessed as at high risk of further sexual offending and a high risk of serious harm overall.  Indeed the author of the report goes so far as to suggest that a risk assessment report with a view to imposing an OLR might be warranted.

I have listened carefully to all that Mr Gilbride has had to say, in particular your numerous and significant health issues all of which I have taken on board fully but the nature of your convictions, the pervasive and long standing nature of your physically and sexually violent behaviour and your disregard for previous disposals imposed upon you leaves me in no doubt that a significant custodial disposal is warranted in your case.  Indeed I gave careful consideration to the recommendation that a risk assessment report be instructed.  However I have come to the view that the sentencing purposes of protection of the public, punishment and expressing disapproval of this sort of behaviour can be met by measures short of an Order for Lifelong Restriction.  I am no doubt on the other hand that having regard to all of the factors I have mentioned the criteria for the imposition of an extended sentence are met, in short that the normal period of licence would not be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from you when you are in due course released. This sentence will be in two parts, a custodial element and an extension period after your release from custody, during which you will be subject to a licence, the conditions of which will be set by the Scottish Ministers. Breach of any of these conditions will make you liable to be recalled to serve out the whole of the sentence in custody, and you may also be sentenced for any offence committed while on licence. 

The total extended sentence in respect of all four charges is 18 years, comprising a custodial part of 14, and an extension period of 4 years.  I will backdate the custodial part of your sentence to 6th November 2021 when you were first remanded in custody in relation to these matters.

The crown have moved for non-harrassment orders in respect of three of the complainers and I am satisfied it is appropriate to grant those.  Accordingly I make such an order, specifically that you shall not by any means, either directly or indirectly including by electronic means, or via social media contact or attempt to contact the three complainers identified.  This order will subsist for an indefinite period.

As I said to you when you were convicted, as a result of your conviction and the sentence I have imposed in respect of these charges you are subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period, and your name has been added to the list of persons deemed unsuitable to work with vulnerable groups.”

12 January 2024