Friday, August 23, 2013

Woman who tried to make it look like two rape victims lied, has her sentence cut


The Hull girlfriend of a convicted rapist who was jailed after trying to clear his name by framing two of his victims with fake Facebook profiles has won a cut in the length of her prison sentence.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the original 30-month term imposed in the case of Ceri Shipman, now 26, was too long, and reduced it by 10 months.

Shipman was sentenced in April at Hull Crown Court after earlier pleading guilty to an offence of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

She set up the Facebook accounts and then used them to send messages to herself purporting to be from the two victims admitting they had made up allegations against her boyfriend Jason Savage, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for offences including rape and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mrs Justice Thirlwall were told it was conceded on her behalf that an immediate custodial sentence was inevitable, but that two-and-a-half years was "manifestly excessive on the facts of the case".

Although the judges reduced Shipman's sentence to 20 months, partly because of the "prolonged" period the offence was hanging over her before her case was dealt with, they emphasised that perverting the course of justice offences almost always result in immediate imprisonment.

Announcing the decision to allow Shipman's appeal against sentence, Mrs Justice Thirlwall, said that such offences "strike at the heart of our system of justice", and added: "It cannot be tolerated."

She said two of Savage's victims - who cannot be named for legal reasons - gave evidence against him at his trial and were believed by the jury.

At that time Shipman believed he had been wrongly convicted, said the judge, which was an "absurd belief".

Following the April 2010 sentencing of her partner, who was ordered to serve a minimum of nine years, she set up the Facebook accounts in the names of the two victims, copying pictures and profiles from their real accounts to make the false ones look genuine.

One message read: "Maybe I did make up the rape but he broke my heart."

The women were arrested and held in custody, one for seven hours and the other for more than five hours before being granted bail. Mrs Justice Thirlwall said that after some months of anxiety they were told that no further action was being taken.

Mrs Justice Thirlwall said t he author of a pre-sentence report was "very firmly of the view" that Savage was behind the offence.

Shipman was of previous good character, aged just 22 at the time of the offence, and had pleaded guilty at the "earliest possible stage".

A sentence of 30 months after a trial would have been appropriate and the original term passed was " too long".