Chatroom rape fantasies woman jailed for six years

Joanne Berry Image copyright PA
Image caption Joanne Berry was jailed after being found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court

A woman who used internet chatrooms to try to arrange for strangers to rape a former work colleague has been jailed for six years.

Joanne Berry, 30, from Grove Park, south-east London, said she liked role-play and invited men to act out violent "rape scenarios" with her.

But instead of giving her own address she gave that of the work colleague in Kent.

A judge said Berry may have held the victim responsible for losing her job.

One man tried to barge into the victim's home, but aborted the plan when he realised they had both been set up.

'Irrational vendetta'

Berry was convicted at an earlier hearing at Maidstone Crown Court of putting a person in fear of violence, assault with the intention of committing a sexual offence, common assault and attempting to cause a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

Judge David Griffith-Jones QC said Berry had developed an "irrational vendetta" against the victim who had only shown kindness towards her.

She found a chatline through which she made contact with a man known in court as "DH", who gave evidence during the trial.

Eventually Berry persuaded DH to come to "her home", knock on the door and "rape" her, but she gave him the victim's address.

The judge said her behaviour was wicked and calculating.

"That (the victim) was not in fact raped or seriously sexually assaulted is entirely fortuitous," he said.

Part of a victim impact statement was read out at court. The woman described how the ordeal had left her suffering panic attacks.

She now refuses to sit out in the garden on her own because she fears men may force their way in and she panics when someone knocks on her door.

According to Dr Ben Oldfield, a lecturer in cyber psychology at Nottingham Trent University, crimes involving the malicious theft of online identities are on the rise.

"A lot of these forums only need a name, a date of birth and an email address for you to create an account," he said. "You might have set up that account only two minutes before - they don't check," he said.

"Sex chat rooms present very distinct risks and while their malicious use in this way is thankfully rare, it is an unfortunate by-product of the kind of things that are on the internet.

"It's very tempting to think there must be some legislation out there to stop people doing this but, as horrible as it may be, I'm not sure you can legislate against this darker side of human nature."

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