Political parties have reacted with anger after a man who raped a 16-year-old girl while on the run from prison had his minimum sentence halved.
Robert Foye attacked the girl near Cumbernauld in August 2007, after absconding from Dundee’s Castle Huntly prison. He had been allowed to leave the prison to attend an Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting.
An appeal by Foye and paedophile Morris Petch against sentencing guidelines related to discretionary life sentences in March of this year was successful, leading to today’s ruling under the new guidelines.
Foye was convicted in October 2008 and received a minimum of nine years in prison, in addition to an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR). No prisoner given an OLR has ever been deemed safe enough to release by a parole board.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “I intend to bring forward the necessary changes to the law before the end of this year to address the issues raised in the judgement to which this appeal relates.
“Robert Foye has been convicted of the horrific crime of rape of a 16 year old girl. I respect the decision of the Court – but I am aware that many people will be concerned that the minimum punishment part in this case has been reduced. It was a truly appalling crime that Robert Foye committed.”
Foye’s original conviction was for the attempted murder of a police officer.
Opposition parties have strongly condemned the ruling. Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont said: “People will be aghast. It is unacceptable that Robert Foye, if he is indeed paroled in 2013, would in fact only have served the equivalent of the sentence handed down to him for trying to murder a policeman, which all took place before his escape and brutal rape of a 16 year old girl.
“Do we really think four years is enough for this heinous act? Robert Foye’s crimes are sickening and evil. Politics and the justice system must keep a distance from each other, we understand and respect that, but the SNP Government must realise the huge depth of public outrage and make their feelings known.
“What kind of message is being sent out? Get ten years for attempted murder, escape from prison, rape a teenager and still get out after just over ten years. Even in soft-touch Scotland the public will be shocked, and rightly so.”
Labour’s shadow justice secretary Johann Lamont also condemned the decision, and drew attention to two cases of violent prisoners absconding from Castle Huntly within the past fortnight.
“Robert Foye is a vicious, sexual predator who should be in prison,” she said.
“People will be horrified that this man – guilty of the most disgusting sexual crime – could even be considered for parole after such a short time in prison.
“I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this decision must be for the victim and her family to bear.
“On the surface this decision appears to be completely at odds with what most people would describe as justice. Sadly, it is decisions like this that undermine confidence in our justice system.
“At the time the SNP government promised that they would ‘learn from mistakes’ made in the Foye case, yet with two violent prisoners reported to have gone on the run in the last fortnight alone, I fear the SNP has still not done enough.”