A mother of five children was today spared jail by a judge sentencing her for entering into a civil partnership with another woman while still married to a man.

Last month Suzanne Mitchell appeared at Shrewsbury Crown Court before Judge Robin Onions and pleaded guilty to breaching the Civil Partnership Act.

The judge today decided that in the interests of her children he would not send her to jail.

30-year-old Ms Mitchell of Wingfield Gardens in Shrewsbury was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years.

She will also have to undertake 100 hours of unpaid community service.

Ms Mitchell, a mother of three children, had denied the charges at an earlier magistrates hearing in March.

She entered into a civil partnership in February 2006 with Caroline Beddowes,24, while still married to a man.

She has now left her lesbian lover and returned to her husband.

Hers is thought to be the first case of its kind since civil partnerships became legal in December 2005.

The charge of making a false statement to a registrar is not the same as bigamy, where a person enters into a marriage while still already married to another person.

A person guilty of an offence of making a false statement is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years or to a fine, or both.