Top judges refuse Marie Black’s bid to appeal child abuse sentence

Marie Black. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Marie Black. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A Norwich woman who was jailed for life after being convicted of sexual abuse 'of the worst kind' was refused leave to appeal her sentence by top judges on Thursday.

Marie Black was found guilty of 23 offences including rape, conspiracy to rape and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity following a three-month trial and in September last year was sentenced to life imprisonment with a tariff of 24 years.

Black, then 34, of Atkinson Close, Norwich, together with Jason Adams, then 44, of Aspland Road, Norwich and Michael Rogers, then 46, of Romford in Essex, were found guilty of more than 40 offences, including rape, sexual assault and actual bodily harm carried out against children who were all aged under 13 at the time.

Black, now 35, has had an initial appeal rejected and yesterday had an application for a renewed appeal against sentence turned down at the Court of Appeal Criminal Division sitting at Norwich Crown Court.

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, sitting with Mr Justice Spencer and Mrs Justice Simler, heard grounds for the application for appeal included the length of sentence and fact that it was wrong to impose a life sentence without a pre-sentence report.

But Mr Justice Spencer said they agreed with the single judge that a notional life sentence was 'fully justified' to condemn her 'dreadful crimes'.

An application by Black to appeal conviction was also refused but fresh grounds of appeal will be considered at a later date after being raised on Thursday by Richard Hendron who represented her.

Mr Hendron told the court Black had claimed she had been 'bullied' into not giving evidence by her barrister who had also taken the decision not to cross examine the victims.

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He said she claimed that as a result of both decisions her conviction was 'unsafe'.

But the court heard that the instructions and trial brief had been explained to Black who had signed it.

Lord Thomas, who said these were 'grave allegations in a case of the utmost gravity' criticised 'the irregular way the case has been dealt with' including not bringing the issues to the court's attention until Thursday - despite having seen Black in prison on April 21.

Lord Thomas said: 'It's just simply not the way that anyone who wears a wig and gown as a barrister of this country should behave.'

The fresh grounds of appeal against conviction will be looked at and determined at a later date.

Judges also rejected an renewed application to appeal sentence on behalf of co-defendant Adams whose barrister Isabella Forshall QC said had been 'too high' while the court heard that an application to appeal by Rogers had been abandoned.