Child carer jailed for 12 MONTHS for spitting on victim’s family after brother convicted of sex crimes
A woman who spat at a prosecution witness in an astonishing court outburst was immediately jailed for 12 MONTHS.
Nicola Sutcliffe, 43, a mum and child carer, reacted furiously when her brother was convicted of sex offences at Warrington Crown Court , Cheshire.
She lashed out, punched and spat at one of the witnesses – a member of the victim’s family – in front of shocked court officials and members of the jury during the final moments of the trial of Anthony Sutcliffe, 44, of Barnes Road, Widnes, Cheshire.
One member of the jury could be seen crying as the assault unfolded.
Sutcliffe was arrested in the court and detained at around 11.30am. By 3pm she had appeared before trial judge Tina Landale and been sentenced to a year in jail for contempt of court. She admitted the offence.
Nicola Sutcliffe, of Cherry Sutton, Widnes, launched her tirade moments after her brother was found guilty of historic sexual offences.
She was sentenced to 12 months in prison at Warrington Crown Court after she subjected a number of court witnesses to a vicious outburst.
Her brother has yet to be sentenced.
Moments earlier, the jury had unanimously returned a verdict of guilty against her brother, who was standing trial for one count of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a child under 14.
The 43-year-old single parent, who cares for three children aged five to 16 as well as her 20-year-old son with autism, had been present throughout the week-long trial.
Seated in the public gallery in front of Ms Sutcliffe as she awaited the verdict was the victim’s family who were also prosecution witnesses.
Court staff were forced to rush to the public gallery to protect the prosecution witnesses before Ms Sutcliffe was escorted out of the room.
The jury were quickly ushered from the court room as the shocking scenes unravelled and were only allowed to return once Ms Sutcliffe had been detained.
Judge Tina Landale thanked the jurors for carrying out a ‘responsible and efficient job’ before adding that it was regrettable that their jury service had ended in such a manner.
Ms Sutcliffe was charged with contempt of court and, after she was granted legal representation, pleaded guilty to the offence.
Defending, Simon Minsk outlined how Ms Sutcliffe, who is of previous good character, had not been in full control of her emotions.
He said: “This quietly spoken and gentle woman of 43 behaved in a manner that was completely out of character as she was overcome with emotion following the first trial and the subsequent trial.
“She was unable to contain her emotions and that is partly because she has not been taking her medication in the past couple of days.”
But Judge Landale said it was clear that there must be a deterrent for those who act in this manner.
She said: “You were warned before the jury came into court to return their verdict that it is necessary to behave in a proper and modest way.
“You totally ignored that warning and following the returning of the verdict you immediately launched an attack on the prosecution witness who had given evidence during the trial and the mother of the complainant.
“It was a verbal and physical attack with repeated blows and it continued when you spat towards them.
“As a result of your behaviour the jury were extremely distressed and took a significant period of time before they were able to compose themselves fully.
“It is a corner stone of justice that any jury is able to do their duty without fear or intimidation.”
Ms Sutcliffe was ordered to serve her sentence immediately, her brother Mr Sutcliffe will be sentenced on June 17.
The victim, who suffered at the hands of Anthony Sutcliffe, has praised the judge for taking action against his sister who launched an attack on her family at the end of the trial.
The victim, who decided not to attend court when the verdict was returned, said: “I could not believe it when my family told me what happened.
“I would like to thank the judge for taking what happened seriously.
“I didn’t want any trouble which is why I decided to stay away but my family do not deserve to be treated like this.
“As she works in social services you would think that she would know better than to act like this.
“I was gobsmacked.”
While the victim revealed that coming forward has been one of the most difficult decisions she has made, she now feels relieved that justice will be served.
She said: “It has been hard but it has given me some confidence back.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”