England

Strippers who blackmailed Danny Cipriani sentenced

Danny Cipriani Image copyright Dominic Lipinski
Image caption Judge Peter Lodder told the court "nobody came out of this episode well"

Two strippers who admitted blackmailing rugby player Danny Cipriani, after one of them aborted his child, have received suspended sentences.

Lisa Murphy, 39, had a termination in the summer of 2015 after a relationship with Cipriani, 29, the court heard.

But when she was forced to miss work, due to complications, she asked him for money, which he did not pay.

Murphy enlisted her colleague, Violet Smith, 29, for help and they threatened to go to the papers with the story.

Murphy from Wootton, Northampton, and Smith of Slough, Berkshire, were handed a 22-month sentence suspended for two years at Kingston Crown Court.

The Wasps fly-half - who was playing for Sale Sharks at the time - had offered to pay for the abortion but Murphy refused, insisting she could have the procedure for free on the NHS, the court heard previously.

But when she experienced a health scare following the procedure and was unable to work, she became "increasingly frustrated, increasingly upset, and increasingly desperate", her lawyer, Hannah Duncan, said.

Judge Peter Lodder noted while Cipriani had "repeatedly" offered to help, he "did not act according to his earlier promises".

'Increasingly desperate'

He said: "Certainly he does not appear to have fully appreciated the extent of your difficulties".

Judge Lodder said Murphy was "feeling increasingly desperate and was continuing to suffer from the emotional consequences of her condition".

Nigel Mitchell, representing Smith, said the pair had been offered £18,000 for their story by The Sun but intended to resolve the situation with the former England player and continued to message him between September and October 2015.

He said: "Ms Smith's intention was to try and resolve matters. Like her co-defendant, not for a second did she consider her action and behaviour was amounting to a criminal offence."

Judge Lodder added that Smith was "motivated by concern" for her friend.

"It is against that background that the threat to go to the newspapers was made," he told the court.

Describing how both defendants had since lost their jobs, he commented: "It is an understatement to say that nobody has come out of this episode well."

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