Immediate custody for 62-year-old woman who made false rape complaint

Immediate custody for 62-year-old woman who made false rape complaint

Image from BBC News

On 5 May 2016, BBC news covered the sentencing of Wendy Willson, aged 62, following a late plea of guilty to an offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

What happened?

The facts can be shortly stated. Willson reported to the police that she had been raped in her home by two men with eastern European accents. She claimed the attack was violent, with the men using a weapon to knock her unconscious before raping her. Having initially stated that nothing was stolen during the attack, it later transpired that she had attempted to make an insurance claim for £6,000 in respect of property stolen during the alleged attack.

Conviction and sentence 

She was charged with fraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. She pleaded guilty shortly before her trial.

She was given 5 months for perverting the course of justice and an additional month for fraud. It is unclear what the reduction for her guilty plea was.


A couple of points of interest:

  1. Although the purpose of the perverting offence was seemingly to enable a fraudulent insurance claim, the real gravamen of the offence is the false complaint. As such, although the fraud guidelines might have been useful to consider, we would suggest that the case law surrounding perverting the course of justice offences is more useful.
  2. The structure of the sentence (5+1) is really irrelevant. It is the total that matters. With an approximate reduction of 10% for the guilty plea, a starting point of around 7 months seems towards the bottom end for an offence of this nature.
  3. The perhaps slightly low sentence can be explained by the absence of aggravating factors such as an arrest was made/suspicion was thrown onto an innocent person (it appears that nothing came of the complaint) and the fact that the fraudulent insurance claim failed (and in that way it was an incomplete offence)
  4. Willson’s age will have been relevant; although 62 is not “old”, prison will no doubt be harder upon her than for a woman in her 20s for example.
  5. With those additional factors taken into account, it would appear that this sentence is within the appropriate range. 12 months plus seems to be the going rate for offences with the additional aggravating factors outlined above.
  6. This raises the question of whether the system should require non-violent and non-dangerous offences/offenders to be sent to custody. Although this is a serious offence, is incarceration necessary?


  1. Yes it is necessary. I am of th firm belief tha fals rap claim have the potential to ruin lives and need people to be deterred from making false claims.

  2. Absolutely rubbish. What’s the point of sending her to prison other than it probably gave the Judge an erection? What purpose does this serve? Cost of incarceration is about £104k a year. The taxpayer pays.

  3. Yes it is necessary and way overdue. False accusers wreck lives and are financially compensated for doing so. There is no deterrent, only reward. Even if they admit it (& most do not) forces like Cleveland Police see fit to deal with this malicious and life destroying behaviour using ‘words of advice’. We need to see more of this not less.

  4. No, incarceration isn’t necessary.

    Sentance suspended would be much more appropriate in my opinion. 6 months sentance is going to do nothing to rehabilitate anyone it’s pure “revenge”.

    • Like punishing rapists who plead not guilty deters other rapists – oh wait no it doesn’t.

      • The convoluted logic in your quest to have the world believe all men are rapists is truly bizarre. So women who cry rape falsely don’t damage the chances of genuine rape case allegations ?

      • We do punish rapists who plead NG and are convicted; they lose their discount.

        This is a very sad case but I do not think a bender would be enough.

  5. This all goes back to the old question of what is prison for – is it for punishment, public protection or deterrence (or a mixture of all three)? Personally I don’t see the point of locking people up who aren’t a danger but that’s not the same as saying there shouldn’t be any punishment. A significant financial penalty perhaps? Or restriction of liberty in other ways, e.g. curfew / house arrest or similar? Sending non-dangerous people to prison, at great cost to the taxpayer and potentially damaging the criminal’s rehabilitation, seems pointless. But clearly society doesn’t currently share this view, given the kinds of people we regularly lock up for ridiculous periods. That poor banker who got 11 years for fiddling the LIBOR rate comes to mind (and the phrase “poor banker” is not one I ever imagined myself saying!)

      • In comparison to other bankers jailed for various transgressions, he received a vastly inflated term at 14 years (subsequently reduced to 11), as the judge said he wanted to make an example of him. Bearing in mind the six other defendants were all acquitted he is going through the CCRC to have his case reviewed. Once again there is no coherent sentencing and its at the whim of a judge. Looks like he’s taken the fall for everyone else bearing in mind that LIBOR rigging has reputedly been going on since 1991.

      • Andrew – I’m not sure but I’d be inclined to give him a one year sentence plus a huge fine, and by huge I mean a significant portion of the wealth he accumulated during his fraud.

          • From what I read at the time of his sentencing he was still living in a huge mansion, driving an expensive car etc. He was quite adept at managing his own finances profitably. Even if a fine wouldn’t work it can’t be beyond society’s collective imagination to find a way to punish people that doesn’t involve locking them up at vast expense (and human cost) if they’re no danger to anyone. What is the purpose of that?

  6. @Caroline
    I mostly agree with your sentiments, but I think it goes back many years when judges seemed to be aloof and deaf to public concerns about how criminals were sentenced. There seemed in many cases to be no correlation between the crime and the punishment, where the punishment may have been viewed as light for the offence. There has no doubt been political pressure from all parties to address this. The problem here is that she also tried to scam £6000, so a financial punishment is useless, assuming she has no cash anyway. Tagging / curfew is a way to go, but in reality its not a punishment. My friends son has just been on a tag and the only different to his life was that he had to be in the house by 9.00pm for a period of 2 months. Apart from that life continued as normal. in this case making false rape allegations is serious as we know that in sex cases mud sticks even if the man is innocent. Six months does seem a bit hefty, but you know what they say…”if you cant do the time….etc etc.

    • They are plenty of rapists walking around out there who got off because they falsely accused their victim(s) of falsely accusing them and got away with it. I don’t see you showing any concern for the victims in these cases just that “mud sticks” to the innocent well no it doesn’t if you didn’t do, forget it about it and get on with you life, if you did it of course you’re going to bleat about how it’s not fair blah de blah.

  7. Captain – that’s unfortunate re. tagging but perhaps the reason it’s ineffective at the moment is because it’s not regarded as a proper punishment therefore not enforced as such. As you say, prison is still seen as the default so other avenues aren’t made into the effective punitive measures that they could be. It’s surely possible to restrict someone’s recreational activities in a similar way to what happens in prison without actually locking them up, so that we can reserve prison places (& associated expense) for people who are actually dangerous and need to be kept under security for the protection of others. Tagging could be used to prevent people from leaving their house except to go to work, for example, instead of the rather paltry restriction of “be home by 9pm”.

    PS agree about the LIBOR guy being made an example of – I hate it when they do that. They’re basically punishing one person for their inability to convict other culprits.

  8. Even community sentencing doesn’t really work as half the people don’t turn up and the supervisors don’t do anything about it as its too much hassle and paperwork for them. I’m not really sure as to what the answer is in terms of a non- custodial sentence as they all seem to be of little punishment or deterrent and an easy alternative. I cant help feeling that punishments have all gone in the wrong directions, probably due to years of liberal progressive interference with the legal system…..but that’s a whole new debate for another day.

  9. As some bloke recently said “…So women who cry rape falsely don’t damage the chances of genuine rape case allegations ?”

    Really so much for rape cases being tried on the evidence, sadly as we know, and as the comment above bears out, they’re not. Rape culture exists, rape apology exists and rape victims are put on trial but without their own defence team unlike the perpetrator who will have the best defence he or his family/in-laws can afford.

    Secondly, if men could but control themselves like civilised human beings, and not rape, then there would be no false accusations.

  10. She stood to gain £11000 for the “rape”, sometimes paid out despite false accusations.That may have been an addition to the insurance fraud.

  11. No matter how many rapists get away with it the outcry is always about so called false allegations. I wonder why that is and what it deflects attention from, I know.