Rapist, 15, ordered to be detained for life

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The Independent Online
A 15-YEAR-OLD rapist was ordered to be detained for life yesterday, a sentence which contrasted sharply with that in another recent case when the attacker was ordered to pay the victim pounds 500.

Stewart Smith broke into a woman's house at night, threatened to kill her baby, robbed her and then subjected his victim to a two-hour rape ordeal.

Sentencing Smith, Mr Justice Rougier said: 'This offence contained almost every aggravating feature it is possible to think of. You terrified this young woman, you raped her, you threatened her life and those of her children and you took money.'

Smith, from Bedworth, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to raping the woman, 23, in November last year. He claimed that he was drunk and high on drugs at the time.

The case contrasts strongly with that at Newport Crown Court, Gwent, 10 days ago when another rapist, also 15, was ordered to pay his schoolgirl victim pounds 500 so that she could have a holiday. He was also sentenced to three years' probation.

That sentence, by Judge John Prosser, provoked widespread protest and is currently being reviewed by Sir Nicholas Lyell, the Attorney General. He may refer the case to the Court of Appeal which could increase the sentence.

The Warwickshire case involved a much greater degree of violence than the Gwent one but nevertheless the much tougher line taken by Mr Justice Rougier was welcomed by the Police Federation and MPs.

Tessa Jowell, Labour MP for Dulwich, said: 'Obviously what this does show is a quite unacceptable disparity in judges' approaches to sentencing.'

Judge John Prosser yesterday declined to pass sentence on a rapist and a man convicted of indecent assault at Cardiff Crown Court. He was expected to preside but chose not to sit after consulting with the legal authorities. The men will be sentenced by another judge today.