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The Guardian

Rapist who threatened to kill victim’s date has sentence reviewed

By Kiran Stacey,

Sean Robinson was given a five-year sentence for the attack. Photograph: North News/NNP/North News & Pictures Ltd

The government’s top law officials are reviewing a jail sentence handed to a man who forced a woman to have sex with him to save the life of a man with whom she was on a first date.

Downing Street said on Thursday the case of Sean Robinson had been referred to the attorney general’s office under the unduly lenient sentencing scheme after Robinson was given a five-year jail term for the attack.

Victoria Prentis, the attorney general, and Michael Tomlinson, the solicitor general, now have 28 days to decide whether to send the sentence to the court of appeal for review.

A No 10 spokesperson called it “a particularly shocking case”, but added that changing a sentence was rare.

Robinson attacked the unnamed couple in 2021 when he was 17, knocking out the man before telling the woman he would kill him unless she submitted to rape.

According to testimony heard during the trial, Robinson approached the couple from behind as they walked home after their first date in Sunderland. He jumped at the man and started to punch him.

Though the man tried to get himself and the woman away from the scene, Robinson chased them and continued to beat the man.

Jane Waugh, acting for the prosecution, told Newcastle crown court: “[The woman] said she would do anything if he would stop beating [the man], who was barely conscious.”

Waugh added that Robinson responded: “If you come and have sex with me, I will not kill him.”

Related: Sexual offences logged by police in England and Wales hit record high

When the man pleaded for Robinson to leave the woman alone however, Robinson kicked him in the head, knocking him out. He then took the woman behind some bushes and raped her.

Robinson admitted rape and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was sentenced to five years, of which he must serve two-thirds in jail. He was given a lifelong restraining order.

Judge Stephen Earl said: “This was an abominable offence, unprovoked, unwanted attention and the consequences have been absolutely catastrophic for those subjected to it.”

The most recent figures from the Ministry of Justice show that in 2021, 678 sentences were reviewed in this way, but only 106 were deemed too low and therefore increased.

Prentis said last year: “In the vast majority of cases the correct sentence is imposed, but the scheme remains an important tool to ensure that cases can be reviewed where there may have been a gross error in the sentencing decision.”

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