Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Concern at rapist sentence delay

John Munro
The Scottish Courts Service insisted Munro would be sentenced

A victims' group has voiced concern after it emerged a convicted rapist who repeatedly sacked his defence lawyers was still awaiting sentence.

In January 2008, John Munro, 34, was found guilty of raping an 18-year-old woman in Barrhead, Renfrewshire.

Munro, from Paisley, has reportedly written to the Law Society claiming he cannot be punished as he believes the sentencing period has elapsed.

The Scottish Court Service (SCS) said it was following "statutory procedure".

Munro has appeared in court a number of times for sentencing.

His case was deferred again at the High Court in Aberdeen on Thursday, after the judge ordered a risk assessment report, the SCS said.

An SCS spokeswoman said: "He (Munro) has repeatedly sacked his legal team, between 10 and 13 times - it is difficult to ascertain.

Kenny MacAskill
It is important that justice is done and the accused heard, but those who seek to exploit the system must be dealt with firmly but fairly
Kenny MacAskill
Justice Minister

"We are following statutory procedure in this case.

"He is a convicted rapist. He was found guilty and he will be sentenced."

A spokesman for Victim Support Scotland said: "As a victims' organisation we are very aware of the stresses this places on somebody who has been the subject of a very serious sexual offence.

"We hope that the courts, on considering applications for extensions do take into account the position of the victim."

A Crown Office spokesman said it could not comment on the case as sentencing was "a matter for the courts".

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "It is important that justice is done and the accused heard, but those who seek to exploit the system must be dealt with firmly but fairly.

"Serious offenders should be dealt with as quickly as possible, not just in the interests of justice but in the interests of the victim."

Munro is now due to be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on 31 March.

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