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Jailed ‘rape’ woman freed on appeal

Created on 23/11/2010 @ 17:47


A woman jailed after 'falsely retracting' rape allegations against her husband was freed by the Court of Appeal today.
The 28-year-old mother won a challenge against an eight-month prison term imposed on her earlier this month after she had admitted perverting the course of justice. Her sentence was replaced with a community order with a two-year supervision requirement.
The decision to jail the woman last month sparked outrage from rape charities who claimed the case sent out a ‘chilling message’ to rape complainants.
But today she was released after Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting in London with Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams ruled that jail was not appropriate.
National Newspapers web sites are reporting that the judge said that when she appeared at Mold Crown Court “her sentence had to be assessed on the basis that she had perverted the course of justice by falsely retracting a truthful allegation that her husband had indeed raped her”.
Giving the background to her relationship, Lord Judge said: “On her account - and we emphasise that we have not heard his - she was subjected to violent abuse and became very fearful of him.”
The woman's husband was charged with six counts of rape last year and he pleaded not guilty to all of them. But she later said the allegations she had made were false.
The prosecution offered no evidence against him and not guilty verdicts were entered.
Initially, the woman, from Powys, Wales, was charged with perverting the course of justice on the basis of falsely claiming she was raped, but she later said that it was the retraction, rather than the allegation, which was false.
Lord Judge told the court that when she was questioned the mother described feeling under pressure and was in “an emotional and confused state”.
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, he said.
He added: “The difference between the culpability of the individual who instigates a false complaint against an innocent man and the complainant who retracts a truthful allegation against a guilty man will often be very marked.”
Experience had shown that withdrawal of a truthful complaint of a crime committed within a domestic environment often stemmed from pressure “sometimes direct, sometimes indirect, sometimes immensely subtle”, he said.
Women who were raped by a husband or partner, whose behaviour involved “dominance, power and control over her”, became “extremely vulnerable”.
Lord Judge said sentencing judges should “recognise and allow for the pressures in which the truthful complainant in such a relationship has been exposed”.
There should be, he added, a “broad measure of compassion” for a woman who had been “victimised”.
The judge said: “This is an extreme case and we hope that it will be very exceptional for cases of this kind to be prosecuted to conviction in the Crown Court.”
Report based on breaking news from National Newspaper sources.


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