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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
Baby rape sentence 'unduly lenient'
James Taylor
James Taylor was caught after a child porn investigation

Scotland's most senior legal officer has asked for a report into whether a five-year prison sentence given to a man who raped an 13-month-old baby was "unduly lenient".

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC's move follows anger at the sentence given to father-of-three James Taylor, who took pictures of himself raping the baby.

Children's charities said they had expected Taylor to be jailed for life.

A spokesman for the Crown Office, which is headed by the Lord Advocate, 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."

Taylor, 43, was caught after police involved in an international anti-porn probe were tipped off that he had been posting child pornography on the internet.

He appeared for sentence at the High Court in Dunfermline after pleading guilty last month to raping the baby girl, indecency towards a six-year-old girl and possessing indecent images of children.

The offences were committed between August 1998 and December last year.

I have a report from one of Scotland's leading forensic psychologists, who formed the view that your viewing of pornography compromised your moral boundaries
Lord Reed
Police who raided his Grangemouth home found a powerful computer, CDs, and floppy disks containing 2,280 indecent images of children.

Most had been downloaded from the internet, but computer specialists were able to recover some horrific images of Taylor's own making which he had tried to delete.

They included graphic incriminating pictures of Taylor himself raping the baby girl, whose age at the time was estimated to be 13 months and of the six-year-old girl naked in bed.

Both had stayed over from time to time at Taylor's home in Grangemouth, Stirlingshire.

Taylor, a construction industry welder, was told by judge Lord Reed he would have been jailed for much longer, if it had not been for a psychologist's report assessing there was only a low risk of him reoffending.

Psychological report

Lord Reed studied the report, from Dr Gary MacPherson, forensic psychologist at the State Hospital, Carstairs, before passing sentence.

Lord Reed said: "It is often said there is no link between the viewing of pornography and sexual offending, but in this case that appears to be clearly refuted.

"I have a report from one of Scotland's leading forensic psychologists, who formed the view that your viewing of pornography compromised your moral boundaries."

The judge said Taylor, a first offender, had betrayed the trust of the children, but it was clear from his shame and remorse that there was a low risk of him offending again.

To inflict this suffering upon a child who depends on adults to keep her safe is a hideous crime
Margaret McKay,
Children 1st

The court heard the Metropolitan Police's child protection group was tipped off last September about a Scot using an internet bulletin board to post child porn pictures on the web.

They found files containing indecent images registered to someone using the name Mathaston and in December, officers from Central Scotland Police raided Taylor's home.

Taylor, married, with three children aged 15, 13 and 11, blamed his crimes on the "stress" of working constant nightshifts to provide for his family.

Defence advocate Mhairi Richards said he was stricken with remorse, had lost four stones in weight and had requested psychiatric help in prison.

Taylor, whose name was entered on the sex offenders' register, was held on remand in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow, but is likely to serve his sentence at Peterhead jail, which has a specialist sex offenders' unit.

'Shocking and sickening'

A spokeswoman for Children 1st said the charity had expected Taylor to get a life sentence.

Chief executive Margaret McKay added: "This is a shocking and sickening case. To inflict this suffering upon a child who depends on adults to keep her safe is a hideous crime.

"Child pornography is not a victimless crime.

"Anyone who views this kind of material is taking part in the abuse of children."

Nicola Sturgeon
I hope that the Crown will appeal against this short sentence in order to issue a stricter punishment that is more appropriate
Nicola Sturgeon,
SNP justice spokeswoman
Scottish National Party justice spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon has called on the Crown Office to appeal the case and pursue a more severe punishment.

"In a normal course of events, it would not be appropriate to second guess a judge," said Ms Sturgeon.

"However, in this gut wrenchingly appalling case, most people will be perplexed at the leniency of the sentence and will be more than a bit concerned about the judge's comments.

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




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"A serious sexual assault on a baby of just 13 months"


Margaret McKay, Children 1st
"It's beyond belief"



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