Two of Britain’s worst rapists have had their minimum jail terms increased from 30 to 40 years by the Court of Appeal.
A panel of five judges refused to impose whole life terms on Joseph McCann and Reynhard Sinaga, as sought by the Solicitor General Michael Ellis QC at a hearing in October.
McCann, 35, was given 33 life sentences at the Old Bailey in December 2019 for a string of sex attacks on 11 women and children – one aged 11 – during a 15-day cocaine and vodka-fuelled rampage.
Sinaga, 37, was handed a life sentence at Manchester Crown Court in January after being convicted of more than 150 offences, including 136 counts of rape, committed against 48 men – although police have linked him to more than 190 potential victims.
The court gave its ruling on the case on Friday morning.
The Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “The offending in the cases of McCann and Sinaga, very serious indeed though it is, does not, in our judgment, call for either to receive a while life tariff.
“This is not to minimise the seriousness of their offending but instead to ensure that the most severe sentence in our jurisdiction is reserved, save exceptionally, either for the most serious cases involving loss of life, or when a substantive plan to murder of similar seriousness is interrupted close to fulfilment.”
However, the judge said their minimum terms would be increased to reflect the serious nature of their crimes.
Lord Burnett said that, in the collective experience of the senior judges who heard the case, McCann and Sinaga’s crimes are some of the most serious offences of rape to have been tried within England and Wales.
He added: “Neither man has shown any remorse and the long-term psychological damage for at least some of the victims in both trials is profound and will only be understood in the years to come.”
The judge said that, whether either man is in fact ever released from prison will be depend on the Parole Board’s assessment of the risk they pose after they have served their minimum jail terms.
In a statement after the ruling, the Solicitor General said: “Both offenders carried out some of the most heinous and depraved sexual attacks that shocked the nation.
“I am grateful for the guidance the court gave about whole life orders and I am pleased that the court imposed a longer minimum term.
“I hope this brings some solace to the victims of these despicable crimes.”
The Attorney General’s Office referred the 30-year minimum jail terms handed to McCann and Sinaga to the Court of Appeal as “unduly lenient” earlier this year.
At a hearing in London in October, Mr Ellis argued the pair should have been given whole life terms for their crimes.
He said they were among “some of the worst and most violent that this country has ever witnessed”.
Addressing five senior judges, including Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, Mr Ellis said McCann’s catalogue of offending was of the “utmost gravity” and included the use of violence and a “desire to humiliate and degrade his victims”.
He told the court the effect on his victims was “profound” and they had suffered “severe psychological damage” as a result.
He said: “These offences are among the most serious sexual offences ever seen in our courts.”
The Solicitor General described Sinaga as “the most prolific sex offender the courts have ever seen”.
He added: “The effect on his victims has been devastating and will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”
Mr Ellis said a whole life term for each offender would be a “proper reflection” of their crimes and the “significant harm” caused to a large number of victims.
He argued there is “no hierarchy of seriousness, such that homicide must always rank above sexual offending” when courts consider sentencing.
Mr Ellis also argued that, if the court does not consider that whole life terms should be imposed, then the 30-year minimum terms handed to McCann, from Aylesbury, and Sinaga should be increased.
Speaking outside court in October, Mr Ellis said: “We have never before had a case which has resulted in a whole life sentence which was not one of homicide.
“This would be a first but it is right in my view that these cases are considered as wholly exceptional.”
The case is the first time two separate offenders’ sentences have been challenged together as being unduly lenient.
Lawyers representing McCann and Sinaga argued that whole life terms are only imposed in the most serious cases of homicide.
They said that, despite the “extremely serious” nature of the pair’s crimes, they could not be considered “on an equal footing with the very worst cases of murder”.
McCann carried out a series of sex attacks in London and the North West in April and May 2019, two months after the convicted burglar was wrongly freed from prison following “major failings” by probation staff.
He was found guilty at the Old Bailey in December 2019 of 37 charges, including 19 sex offences, relating to 11 victims, aged between 11 and 71, and was described by sentencing judge Mr Justice Edis as a “classic psychopath”.
His crimes included kidnapping, false imprisonment, rape and sexual assault.
Sinaga – the UK’s most prolific serial rapist – preyed on lone, drunk young men around nightclubs near his flat in Manchester, posing as a Good Samaritan who offered them a floor to sleep on or promised them more drink.
The Indonesian student drugged the men then filmed himself sexually violating them while they were unconscious, with many of his victims having little or no memory of the assaults.
Judge Suzanne Goddard QC, who sentenced him to a minimum of 30 years, described Sinaga as “an evil serial sexual predator” and a “monster”.
He was caught after a drugged student woke up half-naked while Sinaga was on top of him.
The victim – just 18 at the time – had been plied with a date rape drug and was half naked.
Instinct kicked in and the man laid into Sinaga – pummelling him “like a cage fighter”.
He said: “I thought I might have killed him, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was using my instincts and adrenaline to survive.”
Sinaga’s crimes may not have been detected had he not accidentally left his mobile in the victim’s pocket.