Woman loses false rape claim appeal

 

A woman who spent time behind bars after "falsely retracting" rape allegations against her husband lost her bid to overturn her "unjust" conviction for perverting the course of justice today.

Her challenge was rejected at the Court of Appeal in London by Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Silber and Mr Justice Maddison.

They had been urged to rule that the 29-year-old mother's conviction was "unsafe".

But dismissing her case today, Lord Judge said the court was "not entitled to interfere with this conviction".

The woman, from Powys, was originally sentenced at Mold Crown Court to eight months imprisonment, but that was overturned by the Court of Appeal in November 2010 when judges quashed the custodial penalty and replaced it with a community sentence with a two-year supervision order.

The woman's husband was charged with six counts of rape in 2009 to which he pleaded not guilty, but she later said the allegations she had made were false.

The prosecution offered no evidence against him when he appeared at Mold Crown Court and not-guilty verdicts were entered.

Initially she was charged with perverting the course of justice on the basis of making a false complaint, but she later asserted that it was the retraction, rather than the allegation of rape, which was false.

Giving the decision on her conviction appeal today, Lord Judge said: "The reality of this case is that the appellant was undoubtedly guilty of a serious crime, from which police officers did all they reasonably could to dissuade her.

"Compassion for her position, and indeed for any woman in the same or a similar position, should have produced a non-custodial sentence.

"That is why this court acted speedily to quash the custodial sentence and replace it with a community order which would offer practical assistance to the appellant in the immediate aftermath of her release from prison."

He added: "The court also expressed itself in clear and direct language, which was immediately considered by the Director or Public Prosecutions, who has now issued fresh guidance about how cases involving false retractions of true allegations by vulnerable defendants will be addressed in the future."

Lord Judge said: "All that acknowledged, we cannot dispense with or suspend the statute, or grant ourselves an extra statutory jurisdiction.

"Accordingly, we are not entitled to interfere with this conviction. The appeal must be dismissed."

Lord Judge said the woman, who pleaded guilty to making a false retraction of a rape allegation, was convicted of "making false retractions of a most serious allegation of sexual crime when she would otherwise have been in a position to assist the Crown to prosecute the perpetrator to conviction".

He added: "On this basis she deliberately enabled her husband to escape justice for the crime of rape for which she was the victim.

"On both occasions when the case has been before this court, the prosecution has proceeded on the basis that the allegations of rape and domestic abuse suffered by the appellant at the hands of her husband were true."

The appeal judges proceeded "on the same basis", but Lord Judge pointed out: "Nevertheless, it is only fair to the appellant's husband to record that he has consistently denied the allegations and has not had any opportunity publicly to challenge or refute them."

He referred to observations made by the court during the woman's sentence appeal - including the fact that perverting the course of justice was not confined to making and pursuing false allegations or giving false evidence, but extended to the retraction of truthful allegations or evidence.

Lord Judge said the issue of "duress" in the form of the "physical, sexual and mental abuse inflicted on her" was at the heart of the appeal - whether on the facts of the case duress might have provided a realistic potential defence.

He said: "The contemporaneous evidence available to the appellant's legal advisers, once she had decided to tell the truth, provided a great deal of mitigation, but no viable defence of duress."

She did not suggest to her lawyers or police that when she "falsely retracted her truthful complaints she was acting under the threat of serious ill-treatment or violence at the hands of her husband or anyone else".

Even her most recent statement did not suggest she was threatened with violence at the time when she made her false retractions.

Lord Judge said: "We immediately recognise that the appellant felt under huge pressure, but although feeling concerned for or even fearful of her husband, or a sense of guilt, or concern about what would happen to her children if her husband was in prison for 10 years or thereabouts, taken in combination undoubtedly creates difficult problems and provides significant mitigation, but does not constitute duress."

The judge said the court "can see no basis for concluding that the appellant felt exposed to violence or the threat of violence when she made the false retractions on which her prosecution was founded".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot