Two women convicted for their role in a vote rigging plot in the scandal-hit 2010 Douglas East by-election have lost their appeal against conviction.
Kerry Rothwell, aged 26, of Clifton Terrace, Douglas, and Gail Corrin, aged 40, of Cronk-y-Berry Avenue, Douglas, were convicted by a jury of conspiring dishonestly to secure proxy votes for election candidate Kevin Woodford.
Each received an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years while leader of the conspiracy, former clerk to Braddan Commissioners Charles ‘Buster’ Lewin, was jailed for three and a half years.
Lewin, of Ballavitchell Road, Crosby, had admitted charges of conspiring dishonestly to secure proxy votes for Mr Woodford, conspiring to steal and conspiring to forge a document at the start of a 34-day trial in September last year.
There was no allegation by the prosecution that celebrity chef Mr Woodford was a party to any conspiracy or that he had knowledge of Lewin’s dishonesty and motives.
The court heard that Lewin approached Mr Woodford to support his candidacy, saying he was doing so on behalf of a group of busnessmen who would form a Manx Election Trust to fund his campaign.
At the trial, the Crown conceded the campaign may have begun with the intention of securing votes lawfully but that it quickly developed into a scheme to exploit the proxy vote process, under which voters absent on the day of an election can appoint someone to vote on their behalf.
Rothwell was recruited via an agency while Corrin was Lewin’s friend and former lover.
Both were charged with conspiring with Lewin and ‘persons unknown’ to secure proxy votes by improper means which included targeting the elderly and deceiving them into obtaining their signature.
Appealing against her conviction, lawyers acting for Rothwell argued the Crown had given no evidence as to the identity of the ‘persons unknown’, and the trial judge Deemster Turner had erred in dismissing an ’abuse of process’ application.
The defence alleged that director of prosecutions Stuart Neale had agreed before the trial that if Lewin pleaded guilty, he would not proceed with the case against the other defendants.
But the appeal court ruled the Deemster was right to dismiss the application, saying they were satisfied that whatever Mr Neale said had not adversely affected the fairness of the trial. They said the absence of other possible defendants in the conspiracy did not impact on the safety of Rothwell’s conviction.
Corrin’s appeal focused on the Deemster’s summing up.
But dismissing the appeals of both women, the appeal court judges concluded the jury was properly directed and there was nothing to conclude the convictions were unsafe or unsatisfactory.
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