Stuart Hall Sentence For Sex Offences Doubled To 30 Months

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 on Friday, ruled that the original 15 months was "inadequate" and should be upped to 30 months.

Stuart Hall is currently serving his sentence at HMP Preston

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 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.

Lord Judge said Hall "got away with it" for decades and had "lived a lie for more than half of his life".

After the announcement, Mr Grieve said: "I asked the court to consider the multiple offending by Stuart Hall over a prolonged period of time which involved numerous victims.

"I also asked that the court take into account the breaches of trust in this case - Hall carried out some of these offences in places where the victims were entitled to feel safe, he used his celebrity status to invite them to attend the BBC, and he also displayed an element of planning and premeditation.

"I am pleased that the court found that 15 months was unduly lenient and have today increased that sentence to 30 months and I hope that this case has highlighted the fact that historical sexual offences are always taken very seriously and show that the law still applies, whoever the offender may be."

The attorney general added the fact that Hall called his accusers liars was an aggravating factor.

Attorney general Dominic Grieve was pleased to see Stuart Hall's sentence increased

Speaking to BBC News, he said: "It was clearly an aggravating factor. You mentioned earlier abuse of trust, abuse of power... He was a man in a powerful position and that statement was an assertion of power over the people who had made these very serious complaints against him - a denial, and indeed he accused them of being liars.

"So, of course it was an aggravating feature and I think what we see with these cases, people have commented that more of these historic sex abuse cases are coming to light, and I think that one of the reasons is that taboos are breaking down."

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.

After he was arrested and subsequently charged in 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 creeping 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.

"For all those who thought that within a fortnight, he would be moved to an open prison and watching Sky Sports in his carpet slippers, the reality is that he is still in Preston, locked up from 4pm until 9.30am and has all his meals in his cell which he shares with another inmate.

"He sleeps on the bottom bunk because he cannot manage the stairs to the top. His sleeping tablets have been taken from him and he endures the heat-wave with the same fortitude as everyone else save that his fresh air is limited to a stroll around the exercise yard.

"He is referred to as a model prisoner."

He added: "This court should not interfere with the sentence passed. If the object was to see this man punished, disgraced and financially ruined, well, all of that has been more than achieved."

The judges heard that matters which went to his credit included the letters he would write to the elderly and lonely and the fact that he had been a successful TV and radio entertainer who had brought a great deal of pleasure to people.

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 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.

"We need to send a strong message that these crimes will be taken seriously even after a long passage of time as victims often find it very difficult to come forward until they are older."