Introduction and facts
Cases where false allegations of rape (or other sexual offending) are prosecuted are very rare, but they always attract the attention of the media.
Recently, the case of Rebecca Palmer was in the press. On 19th October 2017, Ms Palmer was sentenced to 5 years having been convicted of four counts of perverting the course of justice.
It was also reported that she had pleaded guilty to three further counts of perverting, as well as 5 counts under the malicious communications act.
In Court it was said that Ms Palmer had “ indulged in consensual sexual activity” with the victim, 22, and launched a “malicious campaign” after he rejected her“.
Our first reaction on hearing the sentence of 5 years was that that was very high for this offence.
As a vague guide, the starting point for this offence goes up to about 2-3 years (see here for one example, and some links to others).
This sentence is well above that, and more akin to what the victim would have got had he been convicted of rape. It may be that there is more to it than was reported – it is not clear what the 3 other counts of perverting the course of justice were and what they related to, as well as the malicious communications (although it appears that those may have related to harassment type offences against the victim).
Even with that, the sentence is a high one. It would be useful to know more about the facts, as it would probably be the case that that will resolve it. As it is, we will have to wait for the Court of Appeal if they decide to hear it, to say whether it was merited on its facts, an indication of higher sentences for such offences, or a sentence that was (perhaps too) harsh.