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Transgender woman found guilty of rape moved to male prison

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A transgender woman convicted of raping two women is being moved to a male prison.

The announcement came a matter of hours after Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she would not be held in Scotland’s only all-female jail.

A row had emerged over where Isla Bryson, 31, from Clydebank, should be imprisoned after being found guilty of two rapes carried out when she was a man.

Bryson was taken to Cornton Vale women’s prison in Stirling – a site which is set to close – after being convicted on Tuesday.

The transfer to the male prison is expected to be completed on Thursday.

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said a risk assessment was being carried out by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), but she stressed Bryson would not be housed at Cornton Vale.

She said: ‘It would not be appropriate for me, in respect of any prisoner, to give details of where they are being incarcerated.

‘But given the understandable public and parliamentary concern in this case, I can confirm to Parliament that this prisoner will not be incarcerated at Cornton Vale women’s prison.

Isla Bryson, 31, outside the High Court in Glasgow (Picture: PA)

‘I hope that provides assurance to the public.’

The case was raised by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who questioned why Bryson had initially been placed in the female-only jail after being remanded into custody prior to sentencing.

Branding Bryson a ‘beast’, Mr Ross said: ‘This double rapist only decided to change gender after he was charged by the police.

‘It took the threat of jail for this criminal to decide to change his gender. That’s not a coincidence, that is a conscious decision.

‘We think it is wrong that a rapist is sent to a women’s prison. We believe a rapist having access to a women’s single-sex space is a threat.’

Bryson was on Tuesday found guilty of raping one woman in Clydebank in 2016 and another in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019, following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Her estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, claimed her former partner’s transition was a ‘sham for attention’ and that she is attempting to fool the authorities.

‘Never once did he say anything to me about feeling he was in the wrong body or anything,’ she told the Daily Mail.

Bryson will be moved to a male prison after being found guilty of rape (Picture: Mike Gibbons/Spindrift)

‘I can see why he doesn’t want to be in a prison with loads of big scary men, so he’s come up with this ploy to get himself a much easier sentence.’

During the court proceedings, Bryson claimed she knew she was transgender at the age of four but did not decide to transition until she was 29, and is currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: ‘Decisions by the SPS as to the most appropriate location to accommodate transgender people are made on an individualised basis, informed by a multi-disciplinary assessment of both risk and need.

‘Such decisions seek to protect both the wellbeing and rights of the individual as well as the welfare and rights of others around them, including staff, in order to achieve an outcome that balances risks and promotes the safety of all, and that is exactly what has happened in this case.’

The initial decision to place prisoners in facilities rests with the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service (SCTS), but in this case Bryson was supposed to be taken to HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow, according to the courts.

In a briefing for the media after First Minister’s Questions, a spokesman for Ms Sturgeon would not say if it is now Scottish Government policy to bar all rapists from female prisons.

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