Wear

Boy rapist's life sentence reduced on appeal

A 12-year-old County Durham schoolboy who raped his teacher has had his life sentence reduced on appeal.

The youth, now 18, was detained in 2005 after admitting carrying out the attack on the "slightly-built" married woman.

The Court of Appeal heard he had made excellent progress in custody and that the original assessment of his danger to the public had been "pessimistic".

His sentence was cut to eight years, with an extra 10 years of extended licence conditions.

Five years ago, Teesside Crown Court heard the boy carried out the assault on his victim after a one-to-one teaching session, then stole her car and dumped it on Tyneside.

He was ordered to serve a minimum term of 21 months, but told that he would remain in custody for much longer.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, who led the appeal, agreed that the boy - who cannot be named for legal reasons - may have been a grave danger at the time he was detained.

But he said subsequent events, including the prisoner's good behaviour and release to a residential unit, had shown the sentence was not justified.

'Alternative options'

The terms of his life sentence meant he would never be "freed of the shackles of supervision" and the possibility of returning to prison, according to Mr Fitzgerald.

A fight in a pub at the age of 45 could have seen him recalled to custody without conviction, he said.

Lord Justice Hughes, sitting with Mr Justice Wyn Williams and Mr Justice King, said alternative options had been open to the sentencing judge, but he had not been informed at the time.

He said: "Nobody put it before him and, in the circumstances, it is unsurprising that he concluded that the only available sentence was the sentence of life."

The eight-year sentence with the extended licence conditions mean the prisoner will be subject to release conditions until he is 28 or 29.

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