Sept 2011

Rapist Robert Foye has minimum prison sentence halved

A man who raped a schoolgirl while on the run from prison has had his minimum sentenced halved by appeal judges.

Robert Foye was jailed for a minimum of nine years over the attack on the 16-year-old in August 2007.

However, minimum sentencing guidelines were changed following successful appeals earlier this year by Foye and paedophile Morris Petch.

Under new guidelines for discretionary life sentences, Foye, 32, will serve a minimum of four-and-a-half years.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont said the public would be “aghast” at the decision.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman Johann Lamont said the public would be “horrified” that Foye could be considered for parole after such a short time in prison.

‘Appalling crime’

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he planned to bring forward changes in the law this year which would address the issues raised in the judgement.

“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,” he said.

“It was a truly appalling crime that Robert Foye committed.”

Following his conviction, Foye’s defence lawyer appealed against the way trial judge Lady Smith had arrived at her decision on the minimum jail term to be served.

In March, following an appeal by Foye and Petch, judges overruled previous guidelines for setting the punishment part of discretionary life sentences and orders for lifelong restriction.

After hearing Foye’s appeal, based on the revised guidelines, judges Lord Osborne, sitting with Lords Woolman and Wheatley said he can now make a bid for release after serving four-and-a-half years.

Guilty plea

In the written ruling, Lord Osborne said it may be of some comfort to those concerned that, after that time, Foye would only be freed if the parole board were satisfied he no longer posed a threat to the public.

Orders for lifelong restriction (OLR) – the kind of life sentence imposed on Foye in October 2008 – were introduced five years ago.

Since then, no prisoner given an OLR has been freed, no matter how short their so-called punishment part, or minimum sentence.

Foye, who admitted raping the schoolgirl, had been on the run for almost a week when he carried out the attack.

He had been allowed out of Castle Huntly open prison, near Dundee, to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Foye, then 28, had lived rough in woods, drinking heavily, before he seized the girl in broad daylight as she returned from Cumbernauld town centre after collecting new contact lenses on 24 August 2007.

It later emerged that Foye had absconded from the open prison on a previous occasion in 2005.