Youth walks free after admiting statutory rape

Conor Bull outside the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: Iain McLellan
Conor Bull outside the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: Iain McLellan
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A TEENAGER who admitted the statutory rape of a 12-year-old girl walked free from court yesterday after a judge decided not to jail him.

Conor Bull, 17, from Stranraer, raped the schoolgirl in December last year and later boasted of what he had done to a friend.

At the High Court in Glasgow yesterday, judge Lord Burns told Bull: “The public interest does not require a custodial sentence.”

Instead, Lord Burns ordered Bull to perform 101 hours ­unpaid work in the community.

Bull will also be under the ­supervision of a social worker for three years and will attend a course designed to make sexual offenders realise the impact their actions have on their ­victim and their family.

The court was told that Bull believed the girl was 16 and her Facebook pages, where she had claimed to be 14, were shown to Lord Burns by defence counsel Simon Gilbride.

He argued that sentencing Bull to detention would do no good and said that the author of a background report on Bull said he was assessed as being of a low risk of reoffending.

Mr Gilbride said: “Mr Bull says she told him she was 16 coming on 17 and there were entries on Facebook and Bebo where she seemed to give different ages.

“Normally with an offence of this gravity, a custodial sentence is the only suitable disposal. However, the author of the ­social inquiry report prepared on Mr Bull refers to a community payback order as an option.”

The court heard how Bull had been with the girl and others on 30 December last year before going to his Stranraer home.

He later went into a bedroom with the youngster and asked “did she want to do it”.

The pair had sex before the girl returned to her home with a friend.

The court heard Bull then told one of his own friends that he had “s*****d” the 12-year-old.

The incident came to light when the girl later went to hospital after complaining she felt sick.

She told a medic that she ­previously had sexual intercourse, which led to Bull being detained.

Lord Burns warned Bull that if he breached his community payback order, he would be brought back to court and sentenced. Bull was placed on the sex offenders’ register for three years. Last night, rape charities and child support groups reacted to the sentencing. Children 1st chief executive Alison Todd said: “The trauma of rape can have long-lasting effects and a concern for us is that victims have the support they need to recover.

“We must make sure that children who have experienced this type of trauma have access to the support they need and we know from our abuse and trauma ­recovery services that waiting lists can be long and access to services can be patchy.

“It is also vital that young ­offenders are supported to ­realise how wrong their actions have been and understand the impact they have had on victims, and that they are offered support so that no other children are ever put at risk.”

Rape Crisis Scotland said it did not comment on individual cases but highlighted the importance of the punishment fitting the crime.

A spokeswoman said: “What is important to highlight is that penalties awarded for crimes as serious as the rape of a child reflect that gravity.

“It takes a huge amount of courage to report a rape and it is crucial that a clear message is sent to survivors and potential perpetrators of this crime that the justice system treats rape very seriously.”