A mother and her gay friend, who both received prison sentences of three years after concocting a elaborate scheme to convince her ex-partner that his baby had been aborted, have had their appeals rejected by a judge.
Earlier this year, Perth Sheriff Court heard how the woman had planned to sell the baby to her friend and had created a fraudulent scheme to rob her child’s biological father of his parental rights.
The two friends, after apparently being successful in their initial bid to convince the father of the termination, raised the child themselves for three years. However, suspicions were raised when the gay man’s story – and the details on the child’s birth certificate, suggesting that the girl was born a full ten months after the supposed date of conception – were questioned.
The child’s father alerted police when his own suspicions had been aroused after a friend had told him that the girl was his “spitting image”. He raised a civil action to establish his paternity; DNA tests were later carried out, proving beyond doubt that the couple’s story was nothing more than a tangle of deceit.
The woman and her friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were uncooperative throughout and later claimed that they genuinely believed the gay man was the girl’s father. They claimed that conception took place after a “drunken night” on his birthday in April 2010, with the baby being born full term in February 2011.
The court heard that the gay man had always wanted children of his own, and that the friends had schemed together to make this a reality.
They were handed custodial sentences by Sheriff William Wood, who advised them that the severity of the crime meant there were no other options available to him. Both were told they would serve sentences of three years. The child’s father also won a residence order for his daughter after “four years of a nightmare”.
However, the couple appealed the sentences, arguing that they were excessive and disproportionate. Their appeals were considered by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.
Lord Bracadale, the judge who considered the appeals, opted to uphold the original sentences. On Thursday he confirmed that he would be dismissing the appeals, saying: “It is clear on any view that this was a planned enterprise which involved a web of deceit and many lies told.”
Lord Bracadale added that it was obvious that the sheriff had fully considered the “unusual case” on its merits and that, given the nature of the fraud, the sentences could not be said to be excessive.