Appeal planned for girl who may lose baby in jail

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The Independent Online
Lawyers acting for a pregnant teenager who faces being separated from her baby in prison were due to meet their client today to discuss a possible appeal.

A judge sparked controversy when he ruled that the girl, 17, should be sent back to prison even if it meant her baby would be taken from her after she gives birth.

Judge Gabriel Hutton was condemned by penal reformers for refusing an appeal at Gloucester Crown Court against a jail term imposed on the girl for shoplifting.

Solicitors acting for the girl were to meet her in prison yesterday to discuss their next move, which could involve an appeal to the High Court against Judge Hutton's ruling.

Penal reform groups have described the judge's decision as "outrageous and immoral" and welcomed plans for a possible appeal.

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, right, a former prisons minister, said: "I am absolutely fed up with the way it is always the judge who gets attacked when this sort of thing happens. This girl knew she was pregnant, knew she had to give birth, knew that other alternatives had been exhausted and knew she ran a real risk of going to prison, and yet she still went shoplifting. We have got to start putting the responsibility on the criminal, and not on the judge."

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