Married woman, 38, who 'fell in love with teenage boy' is spared jail despite six-month sexual fling
Marie Jane Friendship given six-month sentence suspended for two years
Married 38-year-old, of Bristol, told friends she had fallen in love with boy
She sought legal advice about affair now defence says her life is wrecked
20:32 GMT, 12 December 2012
Spared jail: Marie Friendship, pictured arriving at Bristol Crown Court, was given a suspended sentence after admitting an affair with a teenage boy
A married woman who had a six-month relationship with a teenage boy has been spared jail today.
Marie Jane Friendship, 38, told people she was in love with the teenager and even sought advice from a solicitor about the legality of the affair.
Prosecutor Kenneth Bell told Bristol Crown Court Friendship was wrongly told there was no criminal offence because the boy was over 16 years old.
He said the affair, which happened while she was living with her partner of 18 years, only came to light because she told others.
Friendship, of Whitchurch, Bristol, admitted one count of having sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust.
She was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years today.
Judge Julian Lambert accepted the affair resulted from 'genuine affection on both sides'.
Mr Bell said there was no way of knowing how the affair affected the boy as he 'declined to assist police in any way'.
The relationship ended when legal proceedings began.
Friendship was charged with a position of trust offence, which aims to protect children over the age of consent who have the potential to be vulnerable to sexual abuse by adults in positions of trust.
Robert Duval, defending, said
Friendship’s life had been wrecked by her actions and now she could not
even get employment as a cleaner.
He said: 'She has never been in trouble in any way, shape or form in her life before these events.
'It is to her credit that she has been as frank as she has to the sexual relationship that has taken place.
'Had she not done so it is probable,
although not certain, that she would not have been prosecuted and this
matter would have made no news and she would not have appeared in the
dock of a Crown Court in this country.
'She was not obliged to do that and she has been courageous for doing that.
'She is deeply and genuinely ashamed for what she has done. She is humiliated by her current circumstances.
'She realises with the benefit of hindsight that she was foolish and irresponsible with her behaviour.
Humiliated: Robert Duval, defending Marie Jane Friendship, pictured, said she cannot get a job as a cleaner since the affair
'This was a genuine case of
infatuation. This was not a case of exploitation and there is no
evidence of coercion or sophistication or manipulation.'
Mr Duval added: 'The effect of this
case upon her is irretrievable – they are permanent, they are punitive
and they are humiliating and distressing.'
Judge Lambert suspended a
six-month prison sentence for two years, placed her on supervision for
two years and told her to complete 300 hours of unpaid work and observe a
six-month curfew from 8pm to 6am.
Friendship was also placed on the sex offenders register for seven years.
The judge said: 'The accused should have restrained herself and said no. She has ruined her marriage.
'I have no doubt that he felt very
confused by the whole thing. No-one can blame him that he does not wish
to speak of these events.
'This was a relationship of mutual affection and there was no corruption in this case.'
The judge added: 'If you commit any
further offences in the next two years, you would undoubtedly be sent to
jail and I would do that.'