A MOTHER-of nine who took part in trying to intimidate a witness in a family court case has been spared jail.

Joleen Phelps bought an off-the-shelf phone from a supermarket which was then used to send a series of threatening messages to a couple.

But the 39-year-old insisted she had not sent the texts that led to her and her husband facing charges of blackmail, which were later dropped.

And despite a judge saying the basis on which she admitted guilt was 'deeply improbable', he said he would not jail her because of her remorse and her partner's ill health.

Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how Phelps and husband Philip, 49, had fallen out with another couple.

Earlier this year the victims were set to be witnesses in a case when they received a string of messages from an unknown number.

The texts, which arrived in the last week of January, contained a series of threats about the case and that the sender had incriminating information on them.

Miss Squire said the victim went to the police and, after handing them the phone number, they managed to track it down.

They discovered it was bought at the North Swindon branch of Asda and obtained CCTV images from the store showing Phelps paying for the device.

She said the Acatel handset was bough at 11.41am on January 22 and the first message was sent just over half an hour later at 12.22pm.

When she was questioned about the matter she denied any involvement in the messages and denied buying a phone.

The couple, who live at a farm on Brinkworth Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, were both charged with blackmail and were due to stand trial.

But that was dropped when Joleen pleaded guilty to two counts of witness intimidation.

Mark Sharman, defending, said: "She is genuinely sorry for the significant effect it has had on them. She feels rightly ashamed.

"During her 39 years she has led an unblemished and blameless life, There has been friction between the two families for some period of time."

He said that she is now the sole carer for her husband after he suffered an ischemic stroke which has put him in a wheelchair.

Passing sentence Recorder Michael Vere-Hodge QC said: "You are 39. You have got no previous convictions.

"You pleaded guilty to the serious offence of being involved in sending text messages via a phone intending that the receiver would be intimidated and thereby justice would be obstructed.

"That is always a very serious offence and you and anybody who reads about this offence must understand that anybody who pleads guilty to obstructing justice will find themselves in prison, because it has the effect of obstructing justice.

"The basis of plea which you put forward before trial is one that has been accepted by the prosecution.

"I make it plain, as I did in inquiring about it, the basis upon which you pleaded and was accepted by the prosecution seems without an explanation put before me, is one I find deeply improbable. I must be loyal to your basis of plea.

"You are remorseful; and that is reflected mot only in the presentence report but also in the fact that you pleaded before trial."

He imposed a 12-month jail term suspended for two years with a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and a five-year restraining order.