Grove Park woman jailed after using sex chatrooms to try and trick strangers into raping former colleague

Grove Park woman jailed after posing as former colleague to trick strangers into raping former colleague

Grove Park woman jailed after posing as former colleague to trick strangers into raping former colleague

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A woman from Grove Park who used sex chatrooms to try to trick strangers into raping a former work colleague has been jailed for six years.

Mother of one Joanne Berry, 30, of Marvels Lane, posed as the woman online and invited men to act out violent rape fantasies and role play with her.

A judge said Berry may have held the victim responsible for losing her temporary job after Berry displayed "increasingly erratic behaviour" at work.

After Berry disclosed her ex-colleague's address online, one unwitting man tried to barge his way in to the woman's home to act out the rape.

When the man suddenly realised they had both been set up by someone, he aborted the plan, Maidstone Crown Court in Kent heard.

Judge David Griffith-Jones QC said Berry had developed an "irrational vendetta" against the victim who had only shown kindness towards her.

Berry was convicted in May of putting a person in fear of violence in 2012.

She was also convicted of committing an assault with the intention of committing a sexual offence, common assault and attempting to cause a person to engage in sexual activity without consent.

The court heard that the victim initially bore Berry's "increasingly frenetic and bizarre" behaviour with "a degree of fortitude".

But the judge told Berry: "Things got to a point where (the victim) felt the need to keep you at arm's length, moreover because of your increasingly erratic behaviour.

"Your temporary work placement was terminated. It's now quite clear that, irrationally, you took exception to being rebuffed by (the victim).

"It may be that you held her responsible for the loss of your temporary employment."

Aggrieved, Berry resolved to exact some form of "revenge or retribution".

The judge went on: "You carried out some internet research and discovered a web-based chatline facility on which you would make contact with individuals with particular sexual and other interests.

"Through that facility, you made contact with a particular individual - 'DH' - who gave evidence during the trial."

Berry contacted him over a period of time and pretended that she enjoyed sex and engaging in role play, eventually persuading him to come to "her" home, knock on the door and effectively rape her.

The judge said: "During this you didn't reveal your true identity and the address that you provided as your own was in fact (the victim's) home address."

He added: "He burst in intent on putting the plan between you and him into operation. Fortunately, he swiftly realised that something was amiss, so, after his initial aggressive entry, he aborted the plan."

Berry had been given warnings by the police not to contact the victim, who felt harassed, but she ignored them, the judge said.

"In your interviews, after your arrest and subsequently at your trial, you remained conscientiously in denial. Indeed, that remains the position now," he added.

Judge Griffith-Jones said the combination of direct and circumstantial evidence against Berry at her trial was "compelling and the jury was not fooled".

He described her behaviour as "wicked and calculating". And he went on: "That (the victim) was not in fact raped or seriously sexually assaulted is entirely fortuitous.

"That is plainly what you intended. As it is, however, the trauma inflicted upon her was, as can only be imagined, very substantial indeed."

Part of a victim impact statement was read out at court in which the victim described how the ordeal had left her suffering panic attacks.

She now refuses to sit out in the garden on her own because she fears men may force their way in, and she panics when someone knocks on her door.

The judge said that "DH" should also not be forgotten as he was "duped" into acting in a way which could have had repercussions for him.

In mitigation, defence counsel James Manning said Berry - who has one previous conviction for shoplifting in 2004 - was of good character up until now.

She had also not committed any offences while on bail and she was a woman educated to degree level who had a child.

Mr Manning told the court: "This is an offence which is highly out of character for the defendant."

Berry remained impassive as she was jailed, and told she must sign the sex offenders register indefinitely and may be barred from working with children.

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