Wales

Woman freed from jail after false retraction of rape

A 28-year-old woman jailed for falsely retracting rape charges against her husband has been freed by the Court of Appeal in London.

She had been jailed by a judge at Mold Crown Court for eight months after admitting a charge of perverting the course of justice.

The Appeal Court judges ordered her to serve a community sentence with a two-year supervision order instead.

The woman, from Powys, was jailed earlier this month.

The jail sentence was overturned by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Calvert-Smith and Mr Justice Griffith Williams.

Lord Judge said the woman's sentence when she appeared at Mold Crown Court "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".

He added: "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 court heard that last year the woman's husband pleaded not guilty to six charges of rape, 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.

'Culpability'

Initially the woman 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.

Lord Judge said that when the woman was questioned she described feeling under pressure and an "immense sense of guilt" and told of being in "an emotional and confused state".

He said that perverting the course of justice included the retraction of truthful allegations or evidence.

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."

He said 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".

'Compassion'

Women who were raped by a husband or partner, whose behaviour involved "dominance, power and control over her", became "extremely vulnerable," he said.

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."

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