A mother of three who falsely accused a police officer of rape after he rejected her advances following a one-night stand was today jailed for two years.
Melissa Anne-Marie Carter, 46, took revenge on Pc Matthew Tarrant when he failed to reply to her text messages begging to see him again after they met on a dating website.
Carter, a single mum, who has three sons by two different men, continued her lies for four months during police investigations.
She only admitted the truth after officers confronted her with the text messages she had sent to the long-serving police constable, blaming her actions on ‘stress’.
Carter was today sentenced to two years at Oxford Crown Court after she pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by making a false rape allegation.
Judge Julian Hall blasted Carter saying she had ‘betrayed the sisterhood’ and accused her of making it easier for real rapists to be acquitted.
He added: ‘The offence you committed has effects on all sorts of levels.
‘It is difficult to imagine a worse situation for a serving police officer than to be accused of rape. In his victim statement he talks about losing weight and taking time off work.
‘What you did also had a much wider impact. Government ministers and social commentators talk about the very low conviction rate [for rape].
‘These people also talk as if false complaints of rape are frequently made but they are able to say this because people like you occasionally do.
‘Some people who commit rape are acquitted because people like you make false allegations.
‘To put this a little dramatically you have betrayed the sisterhood. You kept Mr Tarrant hanging on not knowing what his fate would be for three months.’
The court heard Carter met Pc Tarrant on a dating website and invited him to meet her at her home in Banbury, Oxfordshire, which she shares with her three sons, aged 17, 15 and seven.
On October 24 2009, Pc Tarrant went to her home where they had sex and the next day he left for his job in London.
Carter sent him a text message which read: ‘Perhaps we can meet again next Wednesday.’
When he failed to reply she sent another text saying: ‘Are you ok?’
Four days later, Carter went to her local police station and claimed she had been raped by Pc Tarrant.
Paul Harrison, prosecuting, said: ‘Miss Carter met Mr Tarrant on a dating website. There had been some to-ing-and-fro-ing in messages between the two.
‘Miss Carter invited Mr Tarrant to her home on October 24 where they met for the first time face-to-face.
‘Sexual contact took place during that evening and they had full sexual intercourse. Miss Carter sent Mr Tarrant text messages which were completely inconsistent with her allegations.
‘Mr Tarrant did not reply to the text messages as it seemed he would. The prosecution maintains this led her to make a spiteful allegation against him.’
Pc Tarrant was arrested wearing full uniform at 5pm October 29 at the police station where he worked and was quizzed by officers for 6 hours before he was released at 11pm.
The court heard Pc Tarrant was not suspended but was moved to desk role and banned from having contact with the public.
Carter made repeated phone calls to the police station to enquire about how the investigation was going and what had happened to PC Tarrant.
Despite repeated interviews with police, Carter maintained she had been raped and only admitted it was a lie on February 4 when officers confronted her with the text messages she had sent to PC Tarrant.
But even when confronted with the truth Carter blamed her actions on ‘stress’.
She told officers: ‘There is no excuse for what I have done. It was a very stressful time with my family.’
Judge Hall said the false rape allegation had caused PC Tarrant, a long serving officer with the Met Police, ‘extraordinary distress’.
Mr Harrison added ‘He has been on sick leave, he was humiliated. It was an awful experience.’
Carter, who had no previous convictions, will serve 12 months in prison before being released on licence for the remainder of her sentence.
Lucy Tapper, mitigating, said: ‘In cases like these there are only ever losers. She will suffer the stigma for what she has done and will be vilified and perhaps deservedly so.’