A woman jailed for illegally obtaining abortion tablets to terminate her pregnancy during lockdown will be released from prison after the Court of Appeal reduced her sentence.
Carla Foster received an extended sentence of 28 months after she admitted to illegally procuring her own abortion when she was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant.
The Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) sent her the medicines after she called them during lockdown in 2020 and lied about how much advanced was her pregnancy.
Sentencing her last month, Judge Pepperall said Ms Foster will serve half of her sentence in custody and the rest on leave after her release.
But on Tuesday at London’s Court of Appeal, three judges reduced his prison sentence.
‘Compassion, not punishment’
Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with Lord Justice Holroyde and Mrs Justice Lambert, said Ms Foster’s sentence would be reduced to 14 months and should be suspended.
She said: “This is a very sad case, especially because of the length of the gestation when the crime was committed.
“This is a case that demands compassion, not punishment, and in which no useful purpose is served by holding Ms. Foster in custody.”
Dame Victoria added that there was “exceptionally strong mitigation” in Foster’s case.
Foster appeared to the hearing via video link from Foston Hall prison, wearing glasses and a dark blue T-shirt with flowers on the shoulders.
Denial of contact with children.
Her lawyer, Barry White, said “vital” reports on Foster’s mental health were missing at the time of the crime and that “the obvious impact of the pandemic added to Ms. Foster’s already anxious state of mind.”
The Court of Appeal was told that the prison in which Foster has spent 35 days has refused to allow him any form of communication with his three children, one of whom is autistic.
White also said that Foster had voluntarily brought her actions to the attention of the police, adding: “Had she not done that, it is highly unlikely that she would ever have been prosecuted.”
Foster was initially charged with destruction of children and pleaded not guilty, before admitting to an alternative charge of drug administration or use of abortion instruments.
White said he was given 20 percent credit for his second count guilty plea, but could have been given the standard third.
Robert Price of the Crown Prosecution Service said the original sentence was not “grossly excessive”.
It added: “The judge correctly took into account the mitigating factors in this unusually sensitive case.”
In addition to the 14-month suspended prison sentence, Foster will also have to serve up to 50 days of duty.