The estranged wife of double rapist Isla Bryson has slammed the controversy surrounding the criminal’s jail time as “an insult” and called for a longer sentence. Bryson, 31, was jailed at Edinburgh High Court on Tuesday for the rape of a woman in Clydebank in 2016, and a second in Drumchapel three years later.
A row exploded over where the rapist should be sent to prison after the court initially stated she would be remanded in Cornton Vale – an all-women’s prison.
Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham, announced the gender transition to female after appearing in court accused of the two rapes, leading many critics to suggest it was a ploy to secure a place in a female prison rather than out of a real desire to live as a woman. The prisoner has now been sent to HMP Edinburgh, also known as Saughton Prison.
Estraned wife Shonna Graham, 31, said the horrific trauma faced by Bryson’s victims had been overshadowed by the fierce debate over her gender and which prison she should be kept in. She has previously said that during their relationship then-Adam Graham “tried to rape” her after brandishing a kitchen knife.
She told MailOnline: “He – and I will always call him a he – will be out of prison in four years, but his two victims will have to live with this for the rest of their lives.
“It’s an insult to them that their whole ordeal has hardly been discussed and it’s all been about him, and what kind of prison should he go to. They are the ones who are suffering and all he’s done is pull a stroke to try and get himself a softer sentence.
“I’m glad they finally saw sense and put him in a man’s prison and I hope he has a hard time there – he deserves it after what he’s done.”
Bryson, from Clydebank, was sentenced to eight years in prison with a further three years on licence. Ms Graham said she believed 15 years would have been a more appropriate sentence.
She said the judge Lord Scott had “failed to follow through” on his remarks that though Bryson might claim to be the “victim” in the case “you are not”.
She said “eight years – as he’ll get out in half the time – does not reflect the seriousness of his crimes. That will mean the victims’ trauma will all come back far too quickly and it doesn’t give them a chance to heal.”
Prosecutors said Bryson met the victims online, adding the rapist “preyed” on vulnerable women.
During sentencing, Lord Scott said Bryson has continued to “vehemently deny” the offences, and claimed the victims “colluded” to press charges.
The prisoner is continuing to pursue full gender reassignment and is on “the maximum recommended doses of hormone prescription” from Glasgow’s Sandyford sexual health service clinic.
Speaking for the defence, Edward Targowski KC said this, as well as Bryson’s “troubled early years”, made the rapist vulnerable, and claimed the move to transition following both rape allegations was not “an afterthought cynically designed to reduce the punishment”. He described claims that this was Bryson’s motivation as “ill-informed and ill-judged.”
But Lord Scott, speaking to Bryson, said: “Your vulnerability is no excuse at all for what you did to these two women. You raped two women who can both be regarded as vulnerable.”
Sentencing, the judge added it was “necessary to punish” Bryson and “to seek to deter you and others from behaving in this way”.
He said: “Having considered the pattern of offending, the gravity of your crimes and the insights in the various reports, I consider that the question of how best to protect the public does arise. I am concerned to ensure that the public is adequately protected against serious harm from you when you are released from prison.
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“It is plain that you present a particularly significant risk to any woman with whom you form a relationship.”
Following the furore over Bryson’s placement in a women’s prison, Scotland’s Justice Secretary Keith Brown ordered an urgent review of the case and the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) stopped the movement of all transgender prisoners with a history of violence against women into the female estate.
The controversy also comes after the UK government blocked the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill in the first ever use of a Section 35 order since devolution of power to the Scottish parliament under the Scotland Act of 1998.
The justification for using the order was the argument that the new Bill, which was passed with 86 MSPs voting in favour and 39 against, conflicted with the Equality Act – although trans rights supporters have questioned whether this is accurate.
The Bill allows those aged 16 and over to self-identify as the opposite gender without needing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and would allow people to apply for a gender certificate after living in their new gender for three months.
Having a Gender Recognition Certificate allows trans people to update their birth certificate, get married or form a civil partnership in their affirmed gender, update their marriage or civil partnership certificate, and have their affirmed gender on their death certificate when they die.
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