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Courts Increase Sentences for Child Sex Offenders

Child sex offence cases saw the greatest number of prison sentence increases by the Court of Appeal last year the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has announced

Figures released as part the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme annual statistics for 2022 show there were 23 child sex offence sentence increases. This was followed by 10 sentences increased for rape offences and 7 for cases involving grievous bodily harm.

Under the ULS scheme, anybody can ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed if they believe it is too low.

However, there is a strict criteria as only certain offences are considered and referrals to AGO must be made within 28 days of the sentence.

In 2022, the Law Officers received 1,179 cases to review and referred 139 cases to the Court of Appeal. In total, 95 cases (68 per cent) saw the sentence increased.

The Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson KC MP said:

Being a victim of crime can leave life-long emotional scars and some of society’s most dangerous offenders – including child sexual predators and violent criminals – saw their sentences increased in 2022.
As the statistics show, the vast majority of offenders are sentenced appropriately. However, the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme provides a vital safeguard to ensure that there is confidence in our sentence regime.
The scheme is a vital pillar of criminal justice and shows there is a robust system to make sure criminals are suitably punished for their actions.”

Other offences which saw sentence increases in 2022 included, kidnapping, robbery, child cruelty and murder.

Semi Lave’s 15-year sentence saw the biggest increase in 2022 when his jail term was extended by nine years, totalling 24 years with a licence extension of six years.

Lave was found to have raped and sexually abused two children between 2015 and 2020. Both children were threatened with violence and were physically abused.

Other cases in 2022 that saw sentence increases after the Law Officers intervened included:

  • Convicted child sex offender Lee Gibson saw his prison sentence increased from 16-and-a-half years to 23 years in January 2022. Derby’s Gibson subjected his young victim to a campaign of sexual abuse which began when she was under 13 years of age.

  • Former radio DJ, Mark Page, was convicted of trying to arrange sexual encounters with children in the Philippines and had his sentence extended from 12 years to 18 in June 2022.

  • Zachary Jagger saw his prison term increase from six years to 13 years, with a licence extension of three years, after he deliberately drove his car into a group of people he had been fighting with after he was refused entry into a party. He left one victim with a double leg fracture.

  • Lorna and Chris Dennington were sentenced in 2022 for child cruelty offences. Their campaign of cruelty was conducted over 11 years where victims were physically and emotionally abused. Lorna’s sentence was increased to four years and 10 months’, while Chris was ordered to serve a new sentence of six years.

Notes to Editors

ULS Background

  • The ULS scheme came into force on 1st February 1989. It was introduced after public outcry over the lenient sentencing of the offenders involved in the 1986 rape of a 21-year-old. The first ever ULS hearing took place in July 1989 for a man who committed incest and had his sentence doubled from three to six years.

  • The scheme was extended in 2017 to include an additional 19 terror-related offences, and again in 2019 to cover more sexual offences as well as coercive control and stalking and harassment involving violence.

  • Only one person needs to ask for a sentence to be reviewed and only certain types of case can be reviewed, such as: murder, manslaughter, rape and robbery. Further information is on GOV.UK

  • In 2021, the Law Officers referred 151 cases to the Court of Appeal and 106 offenders saw their sentences increase. In 2020, 97 cases were referred to the Court of Appeal and 62 sentences were increased

Case Studies

Lee Gibson

A child rapist from Derby saw his jail sentence increased from 16 and a half years to 23 years in January 2022 after being referred to the Court of Appeal.

Lee Gibson, 57 subjected his young victim to a campaign of sexual abuse which began when she was under 13 years of age.

Now an adult, the woman told the court the abuse has left her so devastated she will not allow her own daughter to be alone with men.

Despite being convicted by a jury of nine child sex abuse charges, the defendant continued to deny any offending even took place.

Counsel acting for the AGO argued that Gibson’s offending represented a “campaign of rape” which would attract a sentence in excess of 20 years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal agreed and six and a half years was added to his sentence.

Mark Page

A former BBC Radio 1 DJ who was convicted of trying to arrange sexual encounters with children in the Philippines had his sentence extended from 12 years to 18 in June 2022.

The court heard that Mark Page, who worked for BBC in the 1980s, tried to bargain down the price for a sexual encounter with a girl aged 12 and a boy of 13, arguing that 3,000 pesos (around £44) was too much.

Two of these offences were committed remotely from the UK in 2016, while two happened in the Philippines on separate trips made by Page in 2016 and 2019.

Page, 63, from Teeside was convicted of four out of five counts of arranging the commission of a child sex offence following a trial. The jury cleared him of one charge. But Court of Appeal judges ruled the 12-year sentence was unduly lenient and he was handed an 18-year term following an application from the Attorney General’s Office.

Officers from Cleveland Police Who investigated the crimes were also awarded a Home Office Internet Intelligence Award after they used data from Google Takeout to match smart speaker audio to Page’s distinctive voice.

Zachary Jagger and Charlie Hearn

Two thugs who violently attacked a group of revellers saw their sentences increase in November 2022.

Zachary Jagger was refused entry to a party in the summer of 2022. He returned to the venue with Charlie Hearn and deliberately drove into the group he had been previously fighting with, leaving one victim with a double leg fracture. The same victim was attacked by Hearn with a Stanley knife, suffering a laceration to their face.

Jagger and Hearn assaulted two more people that same night in an unprovoked attack as they headed to the party. Hearn threatened one victim with a Stanley knife and slashed another on the back with the blade, causing a 23 cm laceration.

On 3 November 2022, the Court of Appeal increased both sentences having been referred by the Solicitor General for appearing unduly lenient. Jagger’s sentence was increased to 13 years’ imprisonment with an extended licence of three years, while Hearn was ordered to serve a sentence of 6 years’ imprisonment with a 3-year extended licence.


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