Friday, October 10, 2008

Woman sentenced to two years in prison for lying about rape and not recanting for three months

Two years seems an appropriate sentence for a woman put a man through a false rape nightmare, causing him to be arrested and jailed for a day, and then refusing to recant for three months.

Sentencing must reward early recantations. But a woman who turns a man's life upside down for three months -- him facing the prospect of many years in prison if her lie has its intended effect -- must pay the price. Two years may seem like too short a sentence, but I suspect it will be enough to cause this particular false accuser never to do it again, and it might scare some other young women who might think they can cry rape with impunity.

Rape liar's jail defeat

Published Date: 09 October 2008

A SOUTH Yorkshire woman who falsely cried rape because she was scared of her prisoner lover finding out she cheated on him has failed in a challenge against her sentence.

England and Wales' most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said Zara Louise McKenning, of Park Road, Thurnscoe, Barnsley, left her victim devastated and had jeopardised securing future convictions in genuine rape cases.McKenning, aged 22, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at Sheffield Crown Court and in May this year received a two-year jail term.

Her lawyers told London's Court of Appeal her sentence should be cut.Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Christopher Clarke, was told she was immature, didn't realise the seriousness of what she had done and was in genuine fear of her boyfriend, who assaulted her when finally released.

But Lord Judge said if potential jurors in rape trials heard about the case, they might be reluctant to convict for fear of condemning an innocent man to prison.

He said: "Every false allegation increases the plight of victims of this dreadful crime. It makes the offence harder to prove and a jury might not be confident to return a guilty verdict.

"This offence not only caused great problems for the victim, but it damaged the administration of justice in this extremely sensitive area."

Lord Judge said the life of the falsely accused man - Darren Holling - had taken on a "nightmarish quality" after the allegation and he suffered the humiliation of being arrested and held in custody for more than a day.

It was nearly three months before McKenning eventually confessed to lying.

The court heard McKenning met Mr Holling in a pub on December 8 2007 and, after kissing in public, they returned to her house and had consensual sex.

But the couple had been spotted by friends of McKenning's prisoner boyfriend and she panicked about his reaction.

She claimed that Mr Holling had raped her after spiking her drink, maintaining her lies even when she knew he was being investigated for the crime.

The court heard McKenning's lover was released from prison shortly after the incident and was returned to jail almost immediately, after he physically assaulted her.