Disgraced veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall has had his 15-month prison sentence for sex offences doubled by Court of Appeal judges.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mrs Justice Macur, sitting in London, ruled that the original 15 months was “inadequate” and should be upped to 30 months.
Hall, 83, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, who admitted 14 counts of indecent assault against girls as young as nine between 1967 and 1987, kept his head bowed as he listened to yesterday’s proceedings via video link from HMP Preston and showed no reaction as the decision was announced.
The case was referred to the court by Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who argued that Hall’s sentence was “unduly lenient” as it failed to adequately reflect the gravity of his offending and the “public concern” about such crimes.
Former It’s A Knockout presenter Hall was sentenced to the 15 months at Preston Crown Court last month by the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC.
Lord Judge said Hall “got away with it” for decades and had “lived a lie for more than half of his life”.
Hall directly exploited his role as a popular BBC presenter to target four of his victims, while he assaulted another four on the pretence of giving elocution lessons to them at his home.
Before entering his guilty plea in April, he had made a public pronouncement on the steps of a court, describing all the claims against him as “cruel, pernicious and spurious”.
Hall was arrested and subsequently charged on 5 December last year with indecently assaulting three young girls.
More women came forward as a result of publicity and he was rearrested before he later admitted sexual offences relating to 13 victims.
Hall’s counsel, Crispin Aylett QC, told the appeal judges that the original sentence was “entirely appropriate” and, if it was merciful, that was because Hall pleaded guilty at an early stage of the proceedings, was 83 and his last offence was committed 27 years ago.
He said that Hall was not in particularly robust health and there was the risk that he would die in prison. The court was told he had an irregular heartbeat, which gave him an increased risk of a stroke, sinusitis and other infirmities of advancing old age.
His prison report made it clear that custody was proving to be a chastening experience for him, although he was adjusting and had moved from contemplating suicide – which he had promised his family not to do – to a state of mind where he believed he would have a life after release but of a significantly different kind than before.
David Tucker, policy lead at the NSPCC, said the charity welcomed the decision.
“Whilst we understand the judge who gave the original sentence was constrained by the legal maximum sentence that existed at the time the offences took place, there were good reasons to view a 15-month sentence as too short for sex crimes against children,” he said.
“Stuart Hall did eventually plead guilty but only after very publicly refuting the claims and adding to the distress of his victims.”