Friday, July 30, 2010

Teesside teen is not punished after false rape claim

Follow up to our story HERE.

A TEENAGER who made a false rape complaint has not been punished by the courts as Teesside's top judge said she needed help.

Kirstie Hodgson’s claim led to the arrest of two men, one held for 18 hours amid extensive police inquiries with high-profile media appeals.

Yesterday Hodgson, 19, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

She still says she has been the victim of another sex assault, Teesside Crown Court heard.

She went to the front desk of Middlesbrough police station and reported she had been raped on October 19 last year.

She said she was attacked by an unknown man as she returned home from a night out in the early hours of that day.

She claimed the man told her he had a knife, forced her to perform a sex act then stole her mobile phone on Borough Road, Middlesbrough.

She pointed out the location of the alleged incident and gave a video interview to the police.

Six detectives and specialist telecommunications officers were assigned to the investigation, with more police resources deployed for searches, reassurance patrols and to prevent more attacks in the area of the bogus assault.

Forensic samples were sent off costing thousands of pounds, as well as protracted CCTV inquiries, phone tracing and eliminating potential suspects, referrals to support agencies and a “comprehensive forensic strategy”.

A 26-year-old man was arrested, held in custody for 18 hours, interviewed and medically examined. A 32-year-old second suspect was held for two hours.

Discrepancies in Hodgson’s story came to light and she was arrested herself five days after her original complaint.

She admitted she lied about the location, description of the assailant and some of the details of the alleged attack.

She maintained she had been raped but at another place, in different circumstances and by another perpetrator.

She says she told untruths and altered details in her report to police because she was afraid of her attacker.

Deborah Sherwin, defending, said: “There are grounds for believing that this quite conceivably is a girl who has been the victim of a sexual assault.”

A psychological report said Hodgson needed help, referring to physical and psychological disabilities and symptoms consistent with a victim of sexual abuse.

Hodgson, formerly of Wellington Street, Middlesbrough, had no previous convictions.

Judge Peter Fox QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said: “It’s a very unusual case.”

He told Hodgson: “At least one man was taken into police custody for a significant period of time as a result of your dishonesty.

“Whatever has happened to you, you’re not the only victim in all this. A perfectly innocent man was arrested and taken into police custody and interviewed at length. And that’s what happens when you tell lies to the police.

“You must leave this court realising that it was a very grave wrong that you did. And two wrongs don’t make a right. It mustn’t happen again.”

With few NHS resources to deal with Hodgson’s problems, the judge could only suggest her GP be given a copy of her psychological report.

“You certainly need the help, and that’s the reason why you’re not going to be punished or penalised today,” he added, passing a three-year conditional discharge.

Detective Inspector Andy Greenwood from Middlesbrough CID said today: “Whilst we would always urge people who are genuine victims of a sexual assault to come forward, anyone who falsely reports such an assault should be aware that their actions can waste a massive amount of police time and resources, diverting officers away from genuine crimes.

“They should also remember that in some cases, a malicious or false allegation could even result in the complainant receiving a custodial sentence.”