A woman sent to jail after faking her own kidnapping to scam a former boyfriend out of £2,000 was released today after winning an appeal.
Leah Jumeaux, 20, from Blackpool, sent the man pictures of herself bound and gagged, using a red felt-tip pen in a ‘crass’ effort to make it look like she was bleeding.
The mother-of-one messaged her former boyfriend in October 2020 using the pseudonym ‘Paddy’ and demanded a £2,000 ransom.
But his short-sighted scheme fell apart when he called the police instead and officers found her safe and sound.
Twins was arrested and immediately admitted to faking the kidnapping, which she said was for the purpose of buying Christmas presents for her family, before pleading guilty to fraud.
Last month she was sentenced to 34 weeks in juvenile detention at Preston Crown Court, but today she was released after senior Court of Appeal judges overturned the sentence.
Lord Justice William Davis said Twins was a ‘vulnerable’ young mother, who suffered from mental health issues and should never have been locked up for the offence.
Leah Twins (pictured above), 20, from Blackpool, Lancashire, sent photos of her bound and gagged next to a gun to her partner in October 2020, a court heard
The court heard that Twins and his victim met online in 2018 and visited each other’s home before the man began receiving messages allegedly from her ex-boyfriend ‘Paddy’ in September 2020.
While on holiday in France, the man received a ‘disturbing’ WhatsApp message from ‘Paddy’ which contained a photograph showing Twins lying on the ground, bound and gagged.
Other threatening messages contained demands for money, initially £2,000 but later reduced to £1,000, some of them accompanied by photographs of what looked like a gun.
The man called the police and Jumeaux was found safe, arrested and questioned.
“She admitted that she was the one who sent the messages purporting to be from ‘Paddy’ and that she sent the photographs,” the appeals judge said.
“She said she did it to get money to buy Christmas presents.
“In a way, the photography is quite unsettling. However, the eerie nature is somewhat undermined by the crude application of a red felt-tip pen, pretending to be blood, which obviously wasn’t.
Although she admitted what she had done, it took a year before Jumeaux was charged with an offense and it was only last month that her case went to court and she was sentenced.
Twins appeared at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court (file photo above) in September charged with blackmail and fraud by false representation
Lord Justice Davis said Twins should not have been locked up, given the delay in the trial, her immediate admission of guilt and her mental health issues.
A psychiatrist who assessed her told the appeals court that she suffered from a disorder involving “emotional instability” which allegedly affected her decision-making at the time of the offence.
“We are fully satisfied that the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive and wrong in principle,” said Lord Justice Davis.
“She was and is a vulnerable young woman. She was only 19 at the time of the offence.
“The judge said he had considered his age and vulnerability, but if he had, he had not done so to the extent appropriate and necessary.
“There were very significant mitigating factors – his good character, his age and his mental health, his family responsibilities towards his child, his early admissions to the police and the substantial delay in the start of the criminal proceedings.
“She has been in custody for three and a half weeks. In our view, the right course of action for us now is to overturn the detention sentence and impose a two-year community order in its place.
The judge, sitting with Judge Martin Spencer and Judge Alan Conrad QC, said the ruling would mean Twins could be released today.