March 1 2015 Latest news:
Thursday, August 14, 2014
A man who lied in court to try to get his friend and boss acquitted of serious sexual offences has been jailed for 16 months by a judge, who said his actions had struck at the heart of the administration of justice.
Christopher Andrews, 57, changed a statement made earlier to police and gave evidence on oath to a jury to try to weaken the prosecution case against Martin Thomas, 49, who was eventually convicted by a jury on multiple counts of sex assault.
Thomas was jailed for a total of 12 years, with a further six years on licence after his trial at Norwich Crown Court but Andrews false evidence could have led to his acquittal.
Janine Sheff, prosecuting, said that Andrews had tried to back up false claims that one of the victims had sent text messages claiming that she had made up allegations against Thomas, and had lied to police,
She said despite Andrews action, the jury convicted Thomas of child sex abuse and perverting the course of justice.
She said that after giving his false evidence, Andrews had been arrested and was charged with perjury.
Andrews of Haven Bridge, Great Yarmouth, admitted perjury.
Jailing him for 16 months, Recorder Peter Wallis told him that fortunately his actions had not led to Thomas being acquitted by a jury but said: “You are now aware of the seriousness of this offence. It strikes at the heart of the administration of justice and it might have led to an incorrect verdict being reached by a jury.”
However he accepted that Thomas could be manipulative and controlling and that Andrews had been “trying to do the best” for his friend.
Simon Gladwell, for Andrews, said that he had relied on Thomas for his employment cleaning holiday chalets.
“The relationship between Andrews and Thomas was one of friendship.”
He said because of Andrews previous convictions for dishonesty he would have found it hard to get another job.
He said that he had been persuaded to change his statement after Thomas had been allowed out on bail before his trial and Andrews had only just been released from hospital.
“He was in a vulnerable position.”
After the case, Det Con Tristan Coull, of Norfolk Constabulary’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “Andrews false statements and evidence on oath could have led to the acquittal of a dangerous individual.”
He added: “We are keen to show that if anyone does lie in police statements and on oath, the police will take positive action as seen in this case.”