When her husband was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at an ASDA supermarket, policeman's wife Zoe Wilkinson was only too keen to help clear his name.

But her attempts to provide what she called a ''true defence'' for Sgt Richard Pendlebury backfired when she began reeling off a string of bogus sob stories about the family's plight to her hair stylist.

During a hair appointment at her salon, Wilkinson began falsely claiming to Natalie Leicester she had been manhandled by the guard herself and insisted her husband had tried to defuse the situation.

She also told Leicester she had suffered a panic attack in the store before being grabbed by the arm by staff. She insisted her husband had been ''stitched up'' and also alleged CCTV had gone missing.

Leicester was so taken in by her regular customer's account of Sgt Pendlebury's arrest, she agreed to sign a false statement in support of him.

A statement was later filed to police in which Leicester, 32, wrongly alleged she saw 30-year old Wilkinson being assaulted by one of the guards at the supermarket as Sgt Pendlebury, 42, tried to intervene.

But Wilkinson - a former law firm manageress - ended up in the dock herself after investigators suspected Leicester was lying in her statement and discovered she had been sent text messages by Wilkinson saying: ''Let the games begin.''

Leicester subsequently confessed: ''I just believed Zoe's account - I only wanted to help my friends.''

At Preston Crown Court Wilkinson, of Bury, Greater Manchester, who was convicted of perverting justice broke down in tears as she was jailed for 12 months after Leicester agreed to give evidence against her. Leicester who pleaded guilty to the offence was given 12 months jail suspended for two years and was ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work.

Sgt Pendlebury stood trial at an earlier hearing accused of theft, assault and perverting justice but was cleared of all criminal wrongdoing. He watched from the public gallery as his wife was taken down to the cells.

Cavendish Press' coverage of the case went in the Daily Mail, Daily Express and various other newspapers and websites. If you have a story please email [email protected].