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Just five years for man who raped baby
4 September 2003

Scotland's most senior legal officer today asked for a report into whether the sentence given to a man who raped a baby girl was "unduly lenient".

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC's move came as politicians described the 43-year-old's five-year sentence as "incomprehensible" and urged a tougher sentence.

Opposition MSPs called on the Crown Office to appeal the case, which they described as "gut wrenchingly appalling" and "repugnant".

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James Taylor was jailed for five years for the sex attack on a 13-month-old baby when he appeared at the High Court in Dunfermline yesterday.

Taylor pleaded guilty on August 7 to raping the baby girl, to lewd and libidinous behaviour towards a six-year-old girl and to possessing indecent images of children.

The offences were committed between August 1998 and December last year at Taylor's home in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire, the court sitting before Lord Reed heard.

The Crown Office said it would consider an appeal while the Scottish Executive said the newly-created Sentencing Commission would tackle public concerns about perceived lenient sentencing.

But the Scots Tories and Nationalists reacted with outrage to the sentence.

SNP shadow justice minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "In this gutwrenchingly appalling case, most people will be perplexed at the leniency of the sentence.

"I hope that the Crown will appeal against this short sentence in order to issue a stricter punishment that is more appropriate."

Scots Tory justice spokeswoman and deputy leader Annabel Goldie said: "The circumstances of this crime are sickening, repugnant and beyond description.

"The public will find incomprehensible a sentence which in real terms amounts to approximately two years for a crime which was by any standards horrific."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Lord Advocate has asked for a report on this case to consider whether the Crown should appeal on the grounds that an unduly lenient sentence has been imposed.

"Crown counsel will receive that report in due course."

Justice minister Cathy Jamieson said: "I want to make clear my commitment to a Sentencing Commission for Scotland.

"There is real scope to improve the consistency of sentencing in Scotland. While the Scottish Executive's main role is to ensure that the courts have an adequate range of penalties available to them, as a politician I cannot fail to respond to public concerns over seemingly light or inconsistent sentences.

"We need the Commission to tackle head-on the public's ongoing concerns about sentencing - and in turn make recommendations that will go a long way towards building public trust in the justice system in Scotland."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive added: "The whole issue of child abuse is one that is high up the agenda for the Executive.

"There are a number of issues we are working on to try and make sure that children like that are not exposed to that kind of behaviour.

"There has been a number of reviews, but I can't comment on that specific case."

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