October 2017

More jail time for man who tried to buy off court witness

A PRISONER who tried to buy off a woman who had accused one of his mates of rape has had 20 months added to his sentence.

Raffaele Bretti called the woman from his prison cell and offered her thousands to withdraw her complaint against Rhyan Thomas.

But although the rape charges were dropped the woman was not cowed and her attacker was jailed for 18 years for a variety of other offences.

Bretti, 22, was serving a 10-year sentence for a vicious attack in Liden when Thomas, 28, got him to try and influence the witness.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting, said late last year the woman had made a series of complaints against Thomas.

Although the rape charges were dropped, he was convicted of having sex with underage girls and controlling and coercive behaviour.

In January the woman received a phone call from her friend Bretti from his prison cell, where he is serving a sentence for assault.

He said to her that ‘Rass’ (Thomas’ nickname), wanted to speak to her and asked if he could ring her.

Mr Barker said he then asked her how much money it would take for her to drop the charges, mentioning the figure of £10,000, but she went to the police.

When Bretti’s cell was searched the illicit phone was found which showed calls made to the victim and texts received from Thomas’ new girlfriend Jazmin Fry.

In the messages she asked him to contact the woman on behalf of her boyfriend.

Bretti, formerly of Wharf Road, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

He received his lengthy jail term for a frenzied group assault on a person in Liden.

Mike Pulsford, defending, said his client had naively gone along with the plan, which was bound to fail as he was in no position to hand over any money.

He said he accepted he had abused his friendship with the woman but she appeared to bear no ill will towards him.

Judge Tim Mousley QC said: “It was in the early part of this year that you were persuaded by Rhyan Thomas to help in doing whatever could be done to prevent her from giving evidence against Mr Thomas being convicted of serious offences.

“Your part in this was by no means an isolated incident. There were several occasions in which you contacted her and I am also satisfied you didn’t take much persuading to get involved in what you did.

“Your threats culminated in an attempt to buy her off so she would not come to court to give evidence.”

He jailed Bretti for 20 months, which will be served consecutively to his current sentence making the total 12 years.

Thomas, of Beech Road, was eventually jailed for 18-and-a-half years with a two-year extended licence.

He admitted sexual activity with two girls, harassment, controlling or coercive behaviour, conspiracy to commit criminal damage and conspiracy to pervert the court of justice.

He denied two counts of rape, sexual activity with a child and conspiracy to commit criminal damage and formal not guilty verdicts were entered.

His sister, Shakkia Prince-Thomas, 21, also of Beech Avenue, got a year after admitting conspiracy to commit criminal damage.

Fry, 21, of Ermin Street, was put on a suspended sentence after she admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.