False claim liar in sentence reprieve

Thomas McGurk

Thomas McGurk

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A MAN paid £100 to lie to police has had his jail term cut by top judges - because he eventually came clean and helped prosecute the man who hired him.

Thomas McGurk was given the cash by company boss Kristofer John Sutcliffe in return for giving a false witness statement to support Sutcliffe’s allegations against an innocent man.

McGurk, 45, of Grasmere Road, was jailed for 14 months at Preston Crown Court in May after he admitted perverting the course of justice.

But his sentence was cut to 12 months by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, who said the term should reflect the help he gave prosecutors.

They said that, were it not for his change of heart, an innocent man could have been convicted of something he did not do.

The judges dismissed an appeal by 25-year-old Sutcliffe, of Park Road, Blackpool, against his 29-month jail term - handed to him after he admitted the same offence - saying it was ‘not excessive’ for orchestrating the plot.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams told the court Sutcliffe lied to police and claimed an ex-employee had damaged his car, following a dispute.

Sutcliffe, who has a telesales business, was locked in a disagreement over unpaid wages with the former employee, who sent him some offensive messages via Facebook.

Shortly after receiving the messages, Sutcliffe’s car was damaged so he contacted police and lied, saying he had seen the ex-staff member do it.

He then recruited McGurk, paying him £100 to say he witnessed the vandalism and showing him photographs so he could identify the man.

The innocent man was arrested and kept in custody before being released on bail. He denied the charge and his case was listed for trial.

McGurk claimed he did not know Sutcliffe and had happened to see the incident taking place, but later came forward with the truth after receiving a summons to attend the trial.

Challenging his sentence, McGurk’s lawyers argued his sentence was ‘too long’ saying the crown court judge didn’t take enough account of the role he played in bringing Sutcliffe to justice.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said McGurk was entitled to a greater reduction in his sentence to reflect the assistance he gave the prosecution.

But the court refused to alter Sutcliffe’s sentence.