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Mum Karen Ackland, from Deal, jailed for two years after appeal judge rules original suspended sentence was too lenient

By KentOnline reporter

A mother-of-two who escaped with a suspended sentence after seducing a 14-year-old schoolboy has now been sent to prison.

Divorced Karen Ackland, from Deal, bedded the boy - who was 30 years her junior - after a drink-fuelled night out.

But the former sailor, of Cavell Square, has now been jailed for two years after three senior judges at London's Appeal Court upheld a bid by the Attorney General to have her "too soft" sentence increased.

Karen Ackland at Canterbury Crown Court in July, where she admitted three charges of sexual activity with a child. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Karen Ackland at Canterbury Crown Court in July, where she admitted three charges of sexual activity with a child. Picture: Mike Gunnill

The 44-year-old admitted three counts of sexual activity with a child at Canterbury Crown Court in July, but avoided jail.

Today, Lord Justice Pitchford said there were "no grounds" for suspending her sentence and branded her original punishment "plainly unduly lenient".

He said Ackland had "pursued" the teenager after drinking with him and others.

The pair had both drunk heavily before she kissed him and offered to perform a sex act on him.

Deal woman Karen Ackland seduced a schoolboy 30 years her junior after a drunken night out. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Deal woman Karen Ackland seduced a schoolboy 30 years her junior after a drunken night out. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Later that night, as the boy prepared for his paper round the next day, Ackland stripped off and indulged in sex games with the boy in a bedroom.

But Ackland's illicit tryst was rumbled after the boy's older brother heard moaning noises coming from a bedroom.

During the noisy sex session, Ackland was heard saying: "I can't believe I'm doing this with a 15-year-old" - getting the boy's age wrong.

A court heard Karen Ackland was discovered when the boy’s older brother heard noises coming from a bedroom. Picture: Mike Gunnill
A court heard Karen Ackland was discovered when the boy’s older brother heard noises coming from a bedroom. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Ackland was later arrested after a child protection officer at the boy's school became aware of the offences, but she initially denied any wrongdoing.

However, Ackland changed her pleas to guilty minutes before her scheduled trial, abandoning claims that nothing happened between the pair.

Judge Simon James handed her a nine-month suspended sentence with an order to pay the court costs and placed her on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

"This sentence was plainly unduly lenient..." - Lord Justice Pitchford

Lawyers for the Attorney General, today argued that the sentence was far too lenient after the judge underrated the seriousness of Ackland's crimes.

The Attorney General's barrister said the judge characterised the offence as a "drunken escapade" when it was in fact a "persistent course of conduct".

Ackland's barrister, Dominic Webber, said the punishment was entirely correct, arguing that the victim had encouraged her advances.

He said: "The offender has been named and shamed in the red-top press but she was somebody of exemplary character."

The barrister also said the judge had given an indication behind closed doors that, if Ackland pleaded guilty, he might be convinced a custodial term was not necessary.

Lord Justice Pitchford said today: "There should have been no indication that a plea of guilty might be the difference between a custodial sentence and a non-custodial sentence."

The case was heard at Canterbury Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Court

He accepted that the offence was "out of character" but also underlined the aggravating factors in the case.

Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Mr Justice Dingermans and Mr Justice William Davis, said: "This sentence was plainly unduly lenient.

"We shall quash the suspended sentence order and substitute what we regard as the least possible sentence - namely concurrent terms of two years' imprisonment.

"There are no grounds for suspending the sentences, and they will be served immediately."

The appeal judge ordered Ackland to hand herself into Folkestone Police Station by 4pm today to start her sentence.

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