A wedding planner was jailed for 28 months after sending herself threatening letters making false statements to the police in a bid to frame her ex-husband for stalking.
Emma Heys, aged 42, of Azalea Road, Lincoln, was convicted of three counts of perverting course of justice in relation to the allegations she made in early 2019 when she appeared at Lincoln Crown Court on 13 July.
The case followed a protracted and complex investigation named Operation Franklin.
The investigation uncovered that Heys had attended Lincoln County Court to obtain a non-molestation order against her ex-husband. She supplied fabricated evidence which was uncontested and an interim non-molestation order was granted banning her ex-husband from entering Lincolnshire and also from contacting her.
Emma had presented a picture to the family court of her ex-husband as abusive and violent and that she was at risk from his alleged harassment and stalking behaviour.
Nearly all of this was completely fabricated. The order was issued on 11 February 2019 and three days later Emma made the first of her 19 allegations and 15 false statements.
She alleged that she had woken on Valentine’s Day to find dead flowers with heads cut off and a Just for You card with a note saying “BITCH”.
This marked the start of a continued pattern of allegations that Emma was receiving notes and letters either hand delivered or through the post. The letters were threatening in nature and implied that the sender was watching her every movement commenting on one occasion about the previous day when CCTV cameras had been fitted. On another occasion it referred to her having been shopping in the Trafford centre and another that she had visited Great Yarmouth.
Emma Heys and her partner attended a hearing on 20 February 2019 in which the non-molestation order was made into a full order. Further allegations were disclosed at the hearing which it was alleged the police had ignored but in actual fact they had never been reported to the police.
Allegations of abusive letters and behaviour from Emma continued for some time.
Investigations continued and a search took place at Emma’s address and in a cardboard box, a batch of blank envelopes with stamps on was found. One of which had the same Christmas-themed Wallace and Grommit stamp seen on several of the envelopes handed to police.
Heys was interviewed at length but denied sending the letters and protesting her innocence. Rather than admit to police the investigations were false she continued with her elaborate lies.
She was released under investigation and due to complexity and volume of the investigation, it took more than two years to piece together the evidence in the case. The gathering of the evidence was also delayed by COVID-19 lockdown leading to the investigation phase taking much longer.
The investigating officer pieced together evidence from the victim’s mobile phone records which provided an alibi for her partner. The evidence repeatedly showed that it was unlikely he had any opportunity to send the letters.
Hundreds of hours of CCTV footage were reviewed and there were approximately 100,000 pages of phone downloads which were reviewed. The CCTV footage showed a continued absence of any footage of the letters being posted.
Forensic testing for fingerprints and DNA took place in relation to the envelopes provided to the police. A second envelope from a different date contained DNA under the seal indicating Emma had sealed it.
A review of Heys revealed that her web of lies was far deeper than first realised. Call data records obtained from her mobile phone showed that she had sent text messages to herself on 27 and 28 January 2019 from her own mobile phone to herself. She reported the following day to Lincolnshire Police that she had been receiving harassment from her ex but she could not provide the text messages as her phone had been wiped. This was subsequently shown to be a false statement.
She had also alleged receiving a withheld call from Mr Heys of a threatening nature on 20 January. Analysis of the call data records showed the call had in fact originated from her landline phone to her mobile.
After a protracted process the investigating officer was able to obtain the application made for the non-molestation order from the court. This showed that the fabricated messages had been used by Heys as part of the application. She had lied to the judge and made shocking allegations about her ex in court.
In total the man was arrested three times, spent more than 30 hours in police custody and was interviewed on at least two occasions. For one of his interviews, he voluntarily travelled to Lincoln to be interviewed in an attempt to clear his name. Ultimately the receipts he had collated of his movements helped police disprove his involvement and corroborate he was elsewhere.
Even after being arrested in April 2019 Heys made further allegations of breaches of the non-molestation order by her ex-husband.
In October 2019 Heys was re-interviewed and admitted sending the messages to herself – however she denied sending the letters to herself. As she continued to deny her involvement in key aspects of the case a thorough and detailed trawl of the evidence had to be undertaken to prove the case in full.
Heys was summonsed to attend Lincoln Magistrates’ Court in September 2022 and subsequently pleaded guilty at a Lincoln Crown Court hearing.
The judge rejected the defence barrister’s suggestion that Heys’ offending had been due to her suffering from a mental illness and also from dealing with her mother being terminally ill with cancer.
The judge remarked on the calculated and protracted nature of the allegations Heys made and commented on the impact that her false statements may make on future allegations made by domestic abuse victims. He also acknowledged the serious nature of Heys’ offending, leading to an immediate custodial sentence.
He said that her apparent motive was not borne out of fear but out of malice for getting the man into trouble.
Investigating officer, DC Andrew Woodcock, said: “This was a large and complex investigation involving a number of specialist departments and agencies. This followed a significant drain on local policing resources from the continued false allegations Heys was making.
“The false allegations made will potentially have an impact on future investigations. We always treat domestic abuse allegations seriously and this is why significant resources were put into the case. However, when it became apparent that the allegations may have been false, action was taken to investigate the matter thoroughly. It is difficult to explain how much work has gone into this case or indeed the total cost of the investigation. Cases of this level and extent of offending are fortunately rare.
“Heys’ ex-husband was unfortunately arrested several times and has been significantly affected by what happened and continues to be to this day. It is important that police and other agencies involved test the evidence in cases to ensure that it is reliable and truthful. This case is an example of why so much time and resources go into investigating cases of this nature. I hope today’s sentence will provide some comfort to Christopher for the distress he went through and some closure to the case. ”
Emma Heys was convicted of three separate counts of perverting the course of justice which consisted of:
- Perverting the course of justice in relation to obtain an initial non-molestation order on 8 February 2019.
- Perverting the course of justice in relation to full non-molestation order hearing on 20 February 2019
- Perverting course of justice in relation to the series of alleged letters received between February 2019 and July 2019.
In total she made 19 separate allegations of breach of the non-molestation order and 15 separate signed false witness statements.
She pleaded guilty at the earliest hearing and was sentenced to 28 months’ imprisonment.
There are no sentencing guidelines currently for perverting the course of justice, however draft guidelines will come into force in October 2023. Immediate custodial sentences are the starting point and it is exceptional in these type of cases that a non-custodial sentence will be given.