Times caption: Jemma Beale, 27, also lost an appeal against her ten-year sentence (GARETH FULLER/PA)
A piece by Jonathan Ames, Legal Editor, in yesterday’s Times:
A senior judge has said it “beggars belief” that a woman would invent 15 rapes and sexual assaults just to claim victim compensation as a court rejected an appeal to clear her name. [J4MB: It beggars belief that a judge – Lady Justice Hallett – could be so naive.]
Jemma Beale, 27, was described as a “serial liar” who invented allegations in part to make her female lover jealous. She was jailed for ten years in 2017 after her lies resulted in an innocent man serving a two-year prison term and the police spending more than £250,000 investigating her allegations. [J4MB emphasis]
Beale, who lived in west London, claimed that she had been seriously sexually assaulted by six men and raped by nine in four incidents over three years. However, she was found guilty at Southwark crown court in 2017 of four charges of perjury and four of perverting the course of justice.
Yesterday lawyers told the Court of Appeal in London that her conviction was “unsafe”. Gillian Jones, QC, representing Beale, argued that the trial judge should have given the jury directions about the “danger of assumptions, myths and stereotypes” relating to victims of sexual offences. She also argued that the loss of her anonymity, which led to intense media scrutiny, caused prejudice to Beale’s defence.
The court rejected those arguments, with Lady Justice Hallett saying that such directions usually applied to victims, not defendants, and that such guidance would not have helped Beale.
Sitting with Mr Justice Warby and Sir John Royce, the judge said: “The prosecution had a strong case to prove the charges against her, based not on one person’s word against another, but on independent and credible evidence.”
The judges also dismissed an appeal by Beale against her sentence. Lady Justice Hallett said: “The total of ten years, although stern, we are satisfied cannot be described as excessive.”
The judge told the court that Mahad Cassim, one of the men Beale accused of rape in 2010, was tried twice and jailed for seven years. Appeal judges quashed his conviction in 2015 after his defence team and prosecutors were alerted to serious doubts over Beale’s allegations.
The court heard that Beale had been awarded £11,000 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and had told a former girlfriend that she had lied to get the money. Lady Justice Hallett said: “The idea that a woman could send an innocent man to prison for years solely so she could obtain compensation beggars belief.”
Detectives launched an investigation into Beale in December 2013 after they learnt of a claim by her former girlfriend that a man had been wrongly jailed. Officers reviewed four investigations into allegations made by Beale and found common discrepancies and similar circumstances.
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