A MUM-of-two lied about her abusive ex threatening her with a machete in a bid to get “revenge”, a court heard.

Elle Lewis, 24, who later admitted to police that she’d made up parts of her statement, was spared an immediate jail sentence on Friday after a Swindon judge heard she was a full-time carer for her two children, was remorseful and posed a low risk of harm to the public.

Imposing a 14-month prison sentence suspended for two years, Judge Peter Crabtree said: “Whatever the abuse you had suffered, you simply cannot take the law into your own hands in that way.”

On Friday, Swindon Crown Court heard that Lewis had been in a relationship with ex Jack Thornhill for around four years. That relationship ended in mid-2018, when he was given a community order and made subject to a restraining order for punching her in the back of the head and threatening to kill her.

Prosecutor David Maunder said police were contacted by Lewis’ mother in December 2019 reporting that Thornill had breached the restraining order.

In a statement given to police on December 14, Lewis said her ex had gone round to her Penhill flat at around 6.30pm on November 29 and knocked on the door. She shut the door on him then, scared, contacted a friend. She said she’d left the flat after checking he was not about only to see him as she left the building.

Thornhill was said – falsely – to have spat at her, hitting her in the chest. She walked around the corner to Downton Road, where she met up with her friend. She claimed she was followed by Thornhill, who got off his bike and swung it at the women. He was later said, again falsely, to have taken out a machete with a 10-inch blade and cycled towards them brandishing the weapon.

A second incident was said to have taken place outside her flat in the early hours of December 14. Thornhill was accused of striking her over the head with a wine bottle.

Her ex was arrested later that day and charged with assaulting her, possession of the machete and breaching the restraining order. Magistrates remanded him in custody.

It wasn’t until on January 4, that she made a retraction statement. She claimed she’d been pressured by her mother into making the statement a month before. Officers were told that she believed her new partner had hit her by accident with the wine bottle on December 14 and that she could not be sure Thornhill had a machete on November 29.

A month later, on February 23, she made a third statement admitting she had not told the truth. Thornhill had not had a machete and did not spit at her. He had been outside her flat on December 14, but was cycling away by the time she got out of a taxi and she had stepped in front of his bike to prevent him from leaving.

The admissions were enough to avert a trial and Thornhill was jailed for eight months in April for two public order charges and breaching his restraining order.

Lewis, of Heywood Close, Penhill, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. The court heard she had a number of previous convictions, including for robbery, but had not been in trouble for several years.

Defending, Rob Ross said his client had been a victim of domestic violence. “[Thornhill] is someone who was subject to a restraining order in relation to her and it is quite clear he was still making her life difficult.

“It is also abundantly clear incidents did happen on the two dates in question. What she did was she embellished what had happened and she accepts that she did that because her intention was she wanted to make sure he got locked up.”

He added: “She has said to me, she has said to the police and she has said to the probation service that she was fearful.”

She was the main carer for two young children, aged two and five, and it was unlikely she would be able to see them in prison while the pandemic raged if she were given a custodial sentence. She also suffered from a number of medical complaints.

Mr Ross asked the judge to consider making a community order or suspending any sentence of imprisonment. “The circumstances themselves make it something of an exceptional case,” he said. The impact on her children of sending their mother into custody “tipped the balance” to allow the court to make a community order or impose a suspended sentence.

Judge Crabtree said it was “impossible” to say whether Lewis’ allegations her ex had wielded a machete and spat at her were what determined the magistrates’ decision to withhold bail in December 2019. However, he said it was matter of common sense that his alleged use of the weapons “would have been a material factor in assessing the question of bail”.

Lewis had exposed her partner to the risk of receiving a substantially longer sentence than he ultimately received. “You wasted the time and resources of the police, the prosecuting authorities and the court,” Judge Crabtree said.

However, he said the facts justified an exceptional approach – and allowed him to suspend Lewis’ sentence of 14 months’ imprisonment for two years. She must complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 140 hours of unpaid work.

The judge said: “Ultimately, Mr Thornhill did not spend a day longer in custody than was merited by the offences he admitted he had committed.  Added to that is the evidence of remorse, the personal mitigation I have mentioned, and importantly the very real risk that immediate custody will have a significant harmful impact on your children.”