A transgender rapist who raped two women while still a man has been jailed for eight years.
Isla Bryson, from Clydebank, was sentenced to eight years in prison at the High Court in Edinburgh, with a further three years on licence.
The 31-year-old was convicted last month of raping two women – one in Clydebank in 2016 and one in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019 – while a man known as Adam Graham.
During sentencing on Tuesday, judge Lord Scott noted Bryson continues to “vehemently deny” the offences, claiming the victims “colluded” to press charges.
Defence advocate Edward Targowski KC said this, coupled with “troubled early years”, makes his client vulnerable.
He told the court Bryson’s move to transition following both rapes was not “an afterthought cynically designed to reduce the punishment”, contrary to what he described as “ill-informed and ill-judged comments” made outside of the court.
However, Lord Scott said the seriousness of the crimes “far outweigh” Bryson’s mitigatory circumstances.
He acknowledged Bryson is considered “vulnerable in some ways” due to adverse childhood experiences, but said: “You see yourself as the victim in this situation. You are not.
“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.”
Prosecutors said Bryson, from Clydebank, met both the victims online and “preyed” on vulnerable women.
The case sparked uproar after the convicted rapist was initially housed in an all-female prison before being moved to the male estate.
Bryson first appeared in court as Adam Graham in 2019 and was later named in court papers the following year – around the time of the decision to transition – as Isla Annie Bryson, formerly known as Adam Graham.
During the trial, the High Court in Glasgow heard Bryson was going through the breakdown of a brief, unhappy marriage and went to stay with the first victim at her mother’s house in Clydebank in 2016.
Giving evidence on pre-recorded video, the victim, 30, said she was raped for half-an-hour.
“All I said was ‘no’ over and over and over again,” she said.
“At the time I was so scared. Sick to the stomach. I just didn’t know what was going on.”
The court heard Bryson entered the victim with “her penis”, and was told to stop because Bryson was “crushing” the victim.
The victim told the court: “I said to stop but he (Bryson) just kept on going, and that’s when I just closed my eyes and I am doing what he wanted to do.”
Giving evidence during the trial, Bryson claimed both women consented to having sex.
On Tuesday, Lord Scott said Bryson was, in fact, “preying on these two women because of their vulnerability and raped them in their own homes where they were entitled to feel safe”.
Addressing Bryson, he added: “You are not at the stage of accepting what you did or acknowledging the serious harm you inflicted on two women.”
He said the rapist was “a high risk of reoffending”, adding: “There will need to be a high level of supervision.”
Bryson told during the trial of identifying as transgender at the age of four but not making the decision to transition until age 29.
Following Bryson’s sentencing, Scottish Conservative shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay said: “In reality, an eight-year prison sentence means this double rapist could be back on the streets in as little as four years, which will likely be of little comfort to victims.
“They’ve already suffered from the perverse decision to address this rapist as ‘she’ and by Nicola Sturgeon and her Justice Secretary refusing to say what everyone in Scotland can see with their own eyes – that Bryson is a man.
“Even following Nicola Sturgeon’s sudden resignation, the SNP Government continues to attempt to dupe the public by saying this case has nothing to do with its gender self-ID Bill.
“But if this SNP law is enacted, it will be wide open to exploitation by giving the legal right to sex offenders to declare they are female, no matter the risks to women and girls.
“Going forward, the prison service must publish its delayed new policy on transgender prisoners, allowing for full scrutiny, feedback and, if necessary, amendment.”
SNP leadership candidate Humza Yousaf was asked about Bryson’s case as he spoke to journalists on Tuesday.
He said: “Isla Bryson is deceptive, manipulative, trying to get advantage of the system.
“I hope they’re incarcerated and will be incarcerated in a male prison.”
Asked about the policy of gender self-identification, he said: “I don’t think we should be rolling back on trans rights because of one despicable individual.”