Lisa-Jayne Samuels jailed for 20 months for false rape claim

Lisa-Jayne Samuels jailed for 20 months for false rape claim

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Introduction

Incorrect allegations of rape are rare, actually false (as in knowingly malicious) allegations are very much rarer. On 23rd February 2015 the Daily Mail reported on the case of Lisa-Jayne Samuels, a 29 year old woman from Southend, who was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Facts

It seems that Ms Samuels “… wanted her mother to feel sorry for her” (although later in the story it was phrased as wanting to reconcile with her mother) and, in order to facilitate this, claimed that she had been raped. She said that she had been drinking in a pub when an unknown man spiked her drink and later raped her. She called 999 in the early hours of the next morning (10th October 2012).

Ms Samuels stated that he was an acquaintance and provided police with an ‘e-fit’ that led to the arrest of a Terry Brown early in 2013. Ms Samuels attended an ID parade where she picked Mr Brown out.

He was charged with rape but after investigation, it seemed that CCTV showed that the account given by Ms Samuels was incorrect, and after further investigations, the rape charge against Mr Brown was dropped.

On 6th December 2013 Ms Samuels was interviewed by the police when she accepted that she had fabricated the account.

Sentence and Comment

The offence of perverting the course of justice will always lead to a prison sentence, unless there are exceptional circumstances. In this case, the lawyer asked the Judge to suspend the sentence, but this was refused.

The Judge said “Rape is one of the most serious and repulsive crimes there is. A false allegation of rape can have dreadful consequences on the innocent person who has committed no crime whatsoever.

‘It seems your initial call to the police was an impulsive act but you persisted in it, you made an e-fit and identified your supposed attacker in a line up – that was not impulsive. I have a duty to the public, meaning your sentence must be immediate and must be of some length

Ms Samuels has four children and, it seems, was quite vulnerable, with a history of addiction to drugs and alcohol. These would normally militate against making a custodial sentence immediate. It does seem that Ms Samuels has twice done this before in 2002 – “In 2002, she made false claims to police, but later admitted it was so her mother would not find out she had slept with a Kosovan man. In the same year, she phoned police saying she had been raped in a public toilet and also made a hoax fire call to 999“.

This obviously makes it harder to suspend the sentence (although such a history may be an indicator of further vulnerabilities). One point that isn’t explained is why it took from December 2013 until now for Ms Samuels to be sentenced. If it is that she pleaded not guilty until the day of trial, then this is a further reason that the sentence cannot be suspended. If there was a long period on bail before she was charged, then this is mitigation.

There probably won’t be a (successful at least) appeal against sentence – although 20 months is a long sentence, it is hard to say that it is manifestly excessive, and although the Court of Appeal have (still – after ten years) not given guidance on when a sentence should be suspended, Ms Samuels is not an obvious case for a successful appeal.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

14 COMMENTS

  1. the daily mail article says he was arrested and then released without charge, but this page says he was charged but then dropped. Which one’s correct?

  2. Incorrect allegations of rape are rare, actually false (as in knowingly malicious) allegations are very much rarer.

    This gets repeated as an article of faith every time the subject of false allegations is discussed, but there is really no evidence to support it (and, to be fair, no evidence to contradict it either). The fact of the matter is that no one has the foggiest clue what percentage of allegations are false. I do not mean by this that there is a slight margin of error in the figures that we have. I mean that, for all practical purposes, no one knows at all. The true figure could be pretty much anything.

    Those who hold to the view that false allegations are rare tend to rely on research studies carried out by people such as Liz Kelly or David Lisak. The snag is that none of these studies actually count numbers of false allegations. What they do is to take some sample of allegations and count how many of them for which there is convincing evidence, meeting some predefined standard, that the allegation is false.

    It is true that if you take any sample of allegations, you won’t find many where there is convincing evidence that the allegation is false, but then you won’t find many where there is convincing evidence that the allegation is true either. If you like maths we could express this more precisely. There are two things that are measurable in any sample of allegations. These are:

    Ef = the percentage of allegations for which we have convincing evidence that the allegation is false

    Et = the percentage of allegations for which we have convincing evidence that the allegation is true

    Let us now say that

    F = the percentage of allegations that actually are False

    We cannot measure F directly. The only thing we can say is that

    EfF ≤ (100% – Et)

    The problem is that both Ef and Et are going to be pretty small numbers. Probably somewhere in the vicinity of 2% and 15% respectively. So the inequality above, when expressed in ordinary English, comes out as saying that the percentage of allegations that are false is somewhere between 2% and 85%, which isn’t really any different to saying that no one knows at all what the true percentage is.

    • I’d be interested in the analysis of how many innocent women (and the other gender too) are hauled through the court system, savaged by defence counsel for guilty rapist(s) who have chosen to plead not guilty. Questioned and no charge or charged and charges dropped is no comparison.

      • I’ll go for the answer ‘none’. The days where a lawyer could ‘savage’ a complainant have long gone. There are very strict rules about questions that can be asked, and any attempt to ‘have a go’ at a witness will be stopped by the Judge. Even if they were allowed to, I doubt any lawyer would do so as it would be counter-productive.

        • And yet victims describe the court experience, in the search for justice, as an ordeal. The talk of being savaged. Francis Andrade, prior to her untimely death, made a similarly observation on the stand while under cross exam. I suggest that savaged is still an appropriate description and the victim’s character and sexual history does appear to be allowed in some circumstances when she (or he) isn’t on trial.

    • Not sure that the equation is completely valid (allegation can be convincing, with convincing evidence, but still be false. And vice versa), but in any event, how do you define ‘convincing evidence’? Is it evidence that is corroborated?

      It’s difficult to get any accurate figures though as you say. There is another problem of what is meant by ‘false’ – an acquittal doesn’t mean that the allegation is itself false (or though it might be).

      I guess then, can you answer these questions :
      (1) What is meant by a ‘false allegation’?
      (2) What is meant by ‘convincing evidence’?

      • I’ll try to answer those questions in reverse order, if I may.

        (2) What is meant by ‘convincing evidence’?
        The answer to this depends slightly on which of the various studies you are looking at. Since we are in the UK it probably makes sense to look at the Kelly et al. study that I referred to in my earlier post. There are two sub-questions here

        (2a) What is meant by ‘convincing evidence’ that an allegation is false? Kelly et al. take there to be convincing evidence that an allegation is false if “either there is a clear and credible admission by the complainants, or where there are strong evidential grounds.” (page 50 of the report). They find about 3% of cases that meet this criteria, so in other words they have Ef=3%. You could, of course, argue that this criteria is insufficiently sceptical. If you wanted to be an arch-sceptic you could say that convincing evidence that an allegation is false only exists if the original complainant has been convicted of perverting the course of justice. This is something that very rarely happens, so you would be setting Ef to be about zero. However this does not really make any difference to my argument. My point was that the gap between the lower bound, Ef, and the upper bound, Et, is so large that we really do not know what the value of F is at all. Making Ef lower simply increases the gap between the upper and lower bounds, and thus increases our uncertainty.

        (2b) What is meant by ‘convincing evidence’ that an allegation is true? This is harder to address. In common with most researchers of a feminist leaning, Kelly et al calculate an estimate for Ef, thus giving a lower bound for F, but they don’t really seem to understand that you need an upper bound as well. This means that we have to guess at what figure they would have arrived at for Et, and what evidence would have convinced them that an allegation was true. However we do have something to go on. We know that around 20-25% of allegations result in the alleged perpetrator being prosecuted, around 13% of allegations result in a conviction for some offence (not necessarily rape) and around 6% of allegations result in a conviction for the specific offence of rape. So the least sceptical estimate of Et could be arrived at by saying that, if the CPS decided to launch a prosecution then there must have been convincing evidence that the allegation was true, even if the prosecution did not result in conviction. I can’t see how it is possible to be less sceptical than this. In other words I can’t see how you could estimate Et to be greater than 20-25%. If you were more sceptical, and produced a smaller value for Et then you would widen the gap between the lower and upper bounds on F and therefore add weight to my contention that we don’t really know its value at all.

        (1) What is meant by a ‘false allegation’?
        I think Kelly take an allegation to be simply a statement by a complainant that a rape has occurred, even if no perpetrator is named (in other words we are talking about allegations, rather than accusations). An allegation is false if the alleged rape did not occur (in other words there was no rape, nor was there some related sexual offence that could have been confused with rape).

        I hope that makes sense. I’m sorry I haven’t posted links to my sources (it is late and I need to get to bed) but if you want sources please ask and I’ll do my best to oblige.

        • “In common with most researchers of a feminist leaning” – can you leave the feminists alone we’re not the one doing the raping. Fix the men who rape rapist then all of this speculation ceases to exists because rape doesn’t exist.

          • I was not intending to have a go at feminists in general. The impact of feminism on society has been overwhelmingly positive for both genders, and my own life has been very much better in consequence of it, even though I am a man. However academic feminists have always had something of a problem with statistics. In common with other activists, they often latch on, rather uncritically, to figures that support their viewpoint, while ignoring figures that don’t. In this particular instance they have latched on to the fact that the figure I called Ef is small, while ignoring the fact that Et is also small and that, in consequence, F is almost completely unknown.

          • Last time I looked, this article was about a woman committing the crime of perverting the course of justice. Next thing.. it’s the men’s fault 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Perhaps Brian you need to look up the word reply and its defintion. I replied to a comment(s) made by someone else. Happy to help :-)) back at you.

  4. The fact remains that she should not have done it. whether it is common or not, and thatr custody was inevitable. Logically she should have got what he would have got if she had not been caught by CCTV and he had been convicted – but I am not suggesting that. The life of the law has been experience, not logic.

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