Wednesday, April 27, 2011

False rape claim woman has sentence cut

A STUDENT who lied about being raped in a park in Farnham has had her jail term slashed by top judges.

Maria Rosario Brustenga-Vilaseca told a doctor she had been raped because she was worried how her strict Catholic family would react if they found out about her having pre-marital sex at a party.

The 27-year-old, who is originally from Spain, was jailed for 16 months at Guildford Crown Court in November last year after she admitted perverting the course of justice.

But judges sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court on Tuesday (April 5) cut her sentence to six months, saying the original term was too long.

The court heard Brustenga-Vilaseca was living with a family in Roman Way, Farnham, when she made the false allegation in April 2010.

After a doctor reported her claims of a sex attack to the police, she gave officers a detailed account of being assaulted in Borelli Walk, off South Street in the town.

She said she was walking home from the railway station when a man pushed her to the ground and raped her.

A young local man was arrested on suspicion of the attack but he was later released without charge.

Police eventually discovered that Brustenga-Vilaseca's allegation was false after reviewing CCTV footage around the park, which showed she was not there when she had said she was.

In fact, she had been at a party in Addlestone - 20 miles away from the park - and invented the attack after having consensual sex with a 19-year-old man.

By the time her deception was discovered in early May, 50 members of police staff had taken part in the investigation - including eight officers who spent eight days on door-to-door enquiries.

The force had also viewed 500 hours of CCTV footage, spent £12,000 on forensic investigations and 48 witness statements had been taken.

The court heard the intensive investigation was partly because there had been a genuine complaint of rape in the same area, and officers were therefore worried there might be a serial rapist at large.

Brustenga-Vilaseca tried to withdraw her complaint several times, but was told the matter had to be investigated to protect public safety.

Her lawyers argued her jail term was "excessive", saying she had not made a "typical" false allegation - where a specific person is wrongly identified as a rapist out of malice - and did not foresee that the police would make an arrest.

Allowing the appeal, Judge John Bevan QC described her crime as "an unwillingness to face up to actions she had regretted taking".

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Toulson and Mr Justice Keith, said the original jail term was too long and reduced her sentence by 10 months.