An armed robber's girlfriend who escaped jail after giving him a false alibi when he held up a jeweller at gunpoint has been warned she may still end up behind bars.
The Crown Prosecution Service has decided to challenge the decision to suspend the two-year prison sentence given to Lisa Sudale for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The 35-year-old, of Hartshill Road, Swadlincote, had denied the charge, but a jury took just 80 minutes to find her guilty following a trial at Warwick Crown Court in September.
Despite not only giving Junior Laing a false alibi, but also giving false evidence in his trial at Birmingham Crown Court, she was sentenced to two years in prison suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
However, after reviewing the case, the CPS has applied for what is known as an Attorney General's reference, which has been granted, to challenge the sentence as being "unduly lenient."
The CPS argument that the prison sentence should have been immediate, rather than suspended, is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal on November 7 – and could lead to Sudale being jailed.
During her trial, the jury heard Sudale had stuck to her lying account, even after Laing, then 28, of Earlsbury Gardens, Perry Barr, Birmingham, had been convicted and jailed.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said in September 2014 an armed robbery had taken place at the Gold and Silver Investments jewellery shop in Long Street, Atherstone.
Laing, wielding a single-barrel shotgun, and another man burst in and robbed the owners of £39,000 worth of jewellery after Laing had hit one of them with the butt of the shotgun.
They got away in a car driven by 31-year-old Charlotte Caines – who was traced because it was a courtesy car supplied by her insurance company after her own car had been damaged.
Laing was arrested nine days later, and following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court in May the following year, he was jailed for 16 years, with a four-year extended licence period, while Caines, of Monks Park Lane, Mancetter, was given eight years.
Mr Windridge told the jury: "Miss Sudale was Laing's significant other, girlfriend, call it what you will, and this case is about what she did in April 2015."
On April 5 she made a written statement to the police in which she said Laing was at her home in Swadlincote all day on the day of the robbery, which took place at 2.30pm that afternoon.
She went into great detail about what they did that day up until she left for an appointment at 4pm.
He said: "Her statement, if it had been correct, would have given Mr Laing a complete defence. If he was at her home in Swadlincote, he could not have been in a jewellery shop in Atherstone."
And Mr Windridge pointed out that not only did Sudale make the statement, she went to court prepared to give evidence on Laing's behalf – although she was not called to do so.
When she was arrested, she stood by what she had said, claiming that Laing had been wrongly convicted.
However, investigations showed she had phoned Laing at a time when, according to her, they had been sharing a bath – and she said he had been at her home each night over the preceding few days, when there was evidence he had spent a night in a hotel.
During her trial, Sudale, described as a "spiritual healer," was asked by her barrister Heidi Kubik whether when Laing was arrested, she believed he was one of the robbers, and replied: "No I didn't. I was convinced they'd got it wrong.”
After the jury's verdict, Miss Kubik suggested Sudale had allowed "her desperate wishful thinking about his innocence to become a fixed idea," and argued that she would be "particularly vulnerable" in custody.
Sentencing Sudale, Recorder Jacqueline Carey had told her: "I don't begin to accept your evidence about your state of confusion or your poor memory. This was a deliberate lie.
"But I do have concerns about your ability to cope with a prison sentence. In the light of the age of the offence and what I have read about you, I am prepared to suspend the sentence."
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