PROSECUTORS have asked appeal judges to devise sentencing guidelines for rape cases following a series of allegedly “unduly lenient” sentences being imposed for the crime – including against a Dunfermline man.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC asked judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews to provide guidelines for their colleagues today (Thursday).

Ms Bain, Scotland’s most senior prosecution lawyer, made the request during a hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

She has gone to the court in the hope of persuading judges there to impose lengthier sentences on three men who were convicted of rape recently.

Ms Bain says judges were wrong to impose a 45-month sentence on Luke Bertorelli, 24, a four-year sentence on Jamie Ironside, 23, and a five-year, 10-month long sentence on John Todd, 34.

And she asked the court to pass sentencing guidelines as watchdogs at the Scottish Sentencing Council hadn’t yet completed their own guidance.

Ms Bain added: “I would ask the court to issue sentencing guidelines. These would not hinder or impede the sentencing council with their guidelines.”

Ms Bain made the request moments after beginning her submissions regarding the sentences given to the three men.

Bertorelli, a former farmworker, raped three women during a catalogue of violence and abuse against his victims.

One woman woke up to find him having sex with her and after she shouted "'No" at him he told her he "deserved it".

Bertorelli also photographed his sexual abuse of a drunk victim who was left feeling sick after she discovered the picture on his mobile phone.

The rapist contacted one of his victims after he discovered two of the women had spoken to police and told her: "If they come asking you questions, don't say a f***ing word. I'll pay you."

Bertorelli, of Grange Road, Dunfermline, admitted 11 offences, including three charges of rape, sexual assault, assault and abusive behaviour, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The crimes were committed between March 2017 and February last year at addresses in Dunfermline and High Valleyfield, Blairgowrie, in Perthshire; and a hotel in Edinburgh.

Ironside preyed on his victims, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, at addresses in Inverness between January 2006 and February 2012.

The high court in the city heard how Ironside indecently assaulted his first victim by penetrating her anus with his penis on an occasion between January 2006 and October 2008.

Ironside, who lives in Inverness, targeted his second victim in 2012.

Jurors heard how he physically assaulted this complainer by throwing a mobile phone at the woman, before pushing her onto the ground. He then started choking her and later raped her.

A court heard how Todd tightened a noose around a woman's neck until she blacked out before raping her.

A court heard how Todd's victim came round in a barn at a small village in Fife to find herself tied up with her trousers and pants around her ankles.

The woman was one of three victims of a series of sex crimes perpetrated by Todd over a five-year period in Perth, Angus and Fife.

A judge told Todd, originally of Perth: "You were found guilty of seven charges of rape involving three different complainers. Many of these offences involved acts of aggression and violence in order to rape these women."

Lady Haldane said at the High Court in Edinburgh: "It was evident from the evidence of the complainers that your actions have caused considerable harm to all of them."

She said a background report prepared on Todd made it clear that he took no responsibility for his crimes and continued to deny them.

The judge said: "Your behaviour in respect of each of these women demonstrated a clear pattern of controlling behaviour."

She sentenced him to nine-and-a-half years' imprisonment but said that after taking into account lengthy periods spent on remand he would serve five years and 10 months.

On Thursday, Ms Bain told the appeal judges that judge Lord Sandison failed to take into account all of the circumstances surrounding Bertorelli’s offending.

All three offenders observed proceedings at the court in Edinburgh’s Parliament House via video link from prison.

She said that Lord Sandison had characterised Bertorelli’s behaviour as being “immature”, “selfish” and “childish”.

Ms Bain said that a social worker appointed by the court to find out about Bertorelli’s background had heard him speak about how he felt able to take “control” of women and “revenge” against them.

The social worker also believed that Bertorelli thought he was “entitled” to have sex with women and that he had “misogynistic” and “patriarchal” attitudes which were problematic for authorities wanting to manage the risk he posed post release.

Ms Bain told the court that Lord Sandison hadn’t paid enough attention to this evidence in his considerations.

She added: “By characterising his behaviour as selfish, childish and immature, he has misdirected himself when passing sentence.

“He seems to have misunderstood what the impact of Mr Bertorelli’s behaviour has been on the complainers in the case.

“He has failed to understand the nature of this type of offending.

“I look at the errors of the trial judge and I say it results in an unduly lenient sentence.”

Bertorelli’s counsel, Donald Findlay KC, told the appeal court that the sentence imposed on his client wasn’t unduly lenient. 

He said Bertorelli had been made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order - these orders restrict a person’s ability to live freely and forces them to live according to restrictions imposed upon them by a court. 

Mr Findlay added: “He has a prison sentence which he is currently serving but beyond that he is subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which will regulate him for the rest of his life. 

“The sentencing judge said that this order was a part of the sentence.”

Mr Findlay also told the court that the information contained in the Social Enquiry Report could only provide the court with a picture of the accused at the point in time he is sentenced. 

Speaking about the possibility that his client could be rehabilitated, Mr Findlay added: “The fundamental flaw of the Social Enquiry Report is that it is impossible to know how a person will be when they emerge from prison.”

The senior advocate also urged the appeal judges not to pass guidelines in relation to sex offences. He told the court that the sentencing council was the appropriate organisation to issue guidelines. 

Mr Findlay added: “It is not what this court is designed to do. We have a sentencing council for that purpose.”

Lady Dorrian told the lawyers in the case that the court would issue its decision sometime in the near future. 

She added: “Our issue will be issued in due course.”