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Appeal begins to lock up ‘depraved’ serial rapists forever

Written by on 14 October 2020

Sexual offences “of the utmost depravity” carried out by two men should be punished with whole life prison sentences, judges at the Court of Appeal have been hearing.

The cases of serial rapists Reynhard Sinaga and Joseph McCann were referred to the court under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, after both men received multiple life sentences with an order to serve a minimum of 30 years for their crimes.

As it stands, the only offenders to have received whole life prison sentences have been found guilty of the most extreme cases of murder.

Image:
Sinaga’s flat where he committed 159 sexual offences

Presenting the case, solicitor general Michael Ellis QC, MP, said both men’s crimes were “outside the scale of sexual offending usually seen in our courts” causing irreversible changes to the victims’ lives.

It is unusual for cases to be considered together but as both presented the same legal question it was decided they should be dealt with by the same court.

Mr Ellis described how McCann’s offences “were characterised by violence and the desire to humiliate and degrade” his 11 victims, who included a boy of 11, teenage girls and women up to the age of 71.

The crimes took place in Watford, London and the northwest of England over a two-week period in 2019 before he was caught after a major manhunt.

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The solicitor general told the court how Reynhard Sinaga was, “the most prolific sex offender ever to come before the courts of England and Wales”.

Sinaga, who appeared in court via video link with long hair and wearing a peach-coloured top, was convicted of 159 sexual offences involving 48 victims. His crimes included 136 cases of rape.

Joseph McCann pictured at a hotel in Watford as he left two victims outside in a vehicle
Image:
McCann pictured at a hotel in Watford as he left two victims outside in a vehicle

The PHD student, originally from Indonesia, lured young, drunk men to his flat in central Manchester before spiking their drinks with the “date-rape” drug GHB and sexually assaulting them.

After Sinaga’s arrest in 2017, police found days’ worth of footage of the attacks on his mobile phones.

In many cases the first the victims knew of what had happened was when the police knocked at their door.

Jo Sidhu QC, representing McCann, told the judges that “the test for a whole life order is a problematic test” and that existing guidance related to the most exceptional cases of murder.

He added that the deliberate taking of a life is deemed a “more serious crime than any other” and that if a whole life order was to be applied to other cases, the distinction between murder and those cases would be undermined.

Mr Sidhu said that, even for murder, whole life terms are handed down only on rare occasions.

He also explained that “a minimum term is no guarantee of release” and that “it is perfectly conceivable that Mr McCann will never, ever be released”.

The case is expected to last two days, with a judgment likely to be delayed to a later date.