Monday, March 5, 2012

Teenager wastes 25-30 hours of valuable police time

A teenager who cried rape and wasted over 25 hours of police time has been convicted and fined in Taree Local Court.

The young woman, now 18 but who was 17 at the time of the offences, did not appear in court to answer the charge of false representation resulting in police investigation.

In a lengthy report submitted to the court from investigating officers, an estimated 25 to 30 hours of police time was spent investigating the teen’s allegations, for which she showed no remorse.

The report said the teen arrived at Taree Police Station in a distressed state on October 18 last year, saying she had been sexually assaulted three hours before in bushland just off Rifle Range Road, Wingham by a man who was a stranger to her. She said she had been going for a walk when the man (whom she described in detail) approached and then attacked her. After the rape she said she ran home and rang her partner who rushed home to find her fully clothed and crying in the shower. He drove her to the police station, bringing her wet and muddy clothes with them.

An investigation immediately began, with police officers going to the area she described and talking to people at the nearby rifle range. They searched bushland for two hours for the (fictional) man. In the ensuing days they re-interviewed the young woman three times but she refused to go back to the site saying she was too upset.

Gradually, the report said, inconsistencies began to emerge in her story, including the description of the site and its surrounds. No one interviewed remembered seeing anyone in the area at the time.

Then on October 31 the young woman, accompanied by a relative, went to the police station again and changed her story. She said she had lied about the walk and instead had accepted a lift from a man in a car (whom she had met previously at a party) and he had dropped her off near the bushland. She said she hadn’t wanted her partner to find out this detail but maintained that she had definitely been sexually assaulted.

Police spent more time tracking down the people at the party and the man she alleged to have accepted the lift from and this version too was proved entirely false.

The initial concern of officers and their subsequent frustration and anger is evidenced by this final statement in the report:

“Police have wasted a considerable amount of time and police resources to investigate what they at first believed to be a very serious and troubling crime in the township of Wingham.”

The report went on to say that the teen was given several opportunities to recant her story and have the matter dealt with under the Young Offenders Act but she declined.

Magistrate Shaughan McCosker convicted and fined the young woman $1000 plus court costs and ordered her to make reparations of $1500 for the time wasted.