July 2016

Woman who strangled two young girls is jailed after Court of Appeal overturns original sentence

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A woman convicted of child cruelty will be jailed after the Court of Appeal overturned her original suspended sentence.

Rachel Rushworth, 28, from Benchill Road, Wythenshawe , was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to two counts of child cruelty in May.

She had strangled two young girls, both aged under ten, to the point of unconsciousness.

But after a referral by the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, the Court of Appeal quashed Rushworth’s suspended sentence and replaced it with 40 months in prison.

A high court judge ruled that the original suspended jail term ‘did not reflect the serious nature’ of Rushworth’s crime.

Speaking after the hearing, the Solicitor General said: “Sentencing cases is not a straightforward process, but my view was that a suspended sentence for these offences was unduly lenient.

“I am glad the Court has imposed an immediate custodial sentence – it’s appropriate that Rushworth serve this sentence in prison.”

Rushworth ‘assaulted and abused’ her two victims ‘physically and verbally’, the court was told.

The helpless young children were strangled ‘to the point of unconsciousness’, it was said.

And the judge said the traumatic impact on both of them was ‘profound’.

Rushworth had a ‘dysfunctional life’ including a drug problem, she added.

Paul Jarvis, on behalf of the Solicitor General, argued the Manchester judge had been too merciful.

Her crimes were ‘just too serious’ for her to get a suspended jail term, the barrister said.

David Temkin, for Rushworth, said the ‘experienced’ judge had taken a ‘lenient’ approach and showed ‘generosity and compassion’.

But the sentence was not so soft that the Appeal Court should interfere with it, he argued.

Lady Justice Sharp said that allowing Rushworth to walk free ‘did not reflect at all the very serious nature of this offending’.

“The sentence which was passed was unduly lenient,” ruled the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Spencer and Judge Neil Bidder QC.