London: Disgraced BBC presenter Stuart Hall had his prison sentence for a series of sex assaults on girls doubled yesterday.
Three Appeal Court judges ruled that his original 15-month term was “inadequate” and should be increased to 30 months.
The former It’s A Knockout host, 83, was told that he will not be eligible for release until September next year.
Hall, a married father-of-two, had admitted sexually assaulting 13 girls aged nine to 17 over nearly 20 years.
His initial sentence handed down last month was heavily criticised by his victims, child protection campaigners and senior politicians.
After receiving numerous complaints, Attorney General Dominic Grieve concluded that the punishment was “unduly lenient” and referred the case to the Court of Appeal.
Yesterday, three judges led by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, agreed that Hall should have been jailed for longer.
In a withering judgment, they condemned the paedophile’s original public denials of the sex allegations that had been made against him.
As Hall watched glum-faced via a video link from Preston Prison, Lord Judge said the court regarded his verbal attack on his victims as a “seriously aggravating” feature in the case.
Hall had initially dismissed their claims as “cruel, pernicious and spurious” in a statement made on the steps of a court.
In a lengthy ruling, Lord Judge said that Hall knew the truth and was fully alert to the possible advantages of manipulating the media.
At that point, hoping to escape justice and trying to use the media to possibly influence potential jurors, he “traduced” 13 women who had been assaulted by him.
Lord Judge said: “He did plead guilty but not before he had publicly and deliberately attacked the victims.”
Hall, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, who admitted 14 counts of indecent assault, showed no reaction to the doubling of his sentence.
He had faced a maximum of five years in prison when first sentenced at Preston Crown Court by the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC. But he was given a reduced term because of his guilty pleas.
Lord Judge said Hall “got away with it for decades” and had “lived a lie for more than half of his life”. At the end of yesterday’s hearing, he concluded: “Making every allowance that can reasonably be made, this sentence was inadequate.
“We have to record that the successful career hardly provides mitigation. On the contrary, it was the career that put him in a position of trust that he was then able to exploit.”
It contributed to his image as a cheerful, fun-loving,
“fundamentally decent man”. It also reinforced the view “that effectively he was untouchable”.
The judge said that, to his victims, Hall must have seemed a “figure of power and authority and influence”. After the ruling in London, Mr Grieve said: “I hope this case has highlighted that historical sexual offences are always taken very seriously and shows that the law still applies, whoever the offender may be.”
Hall’s counsel, Crispin Aylett QC, said the original sentence was “entirely appropriate”. If it was merciful, that was because Hall pleaded guilty at an early stage, was 83 and his last offence was 27 years ago, he added.
The court’s ruling was welcomed by Alan Collins, from law firm Pannone, which is representing 17 women bringing compensation claims against Hall and the BBC.
He said: “It took into account Hall’s attitude to those women. It’s good the Court of Appeal saw that [the speech on the court steps] was an aggravating factor. It was terrible, he shouldn’t have done it.”
The Mail revealed this month that Hall has also tried to buy off his victims with as little as £2,000 to stop them seeking further compensation.