Thursday, November 10, 2011

Woman admits to lying over rape claim

At least one of the late-night attacks attributed to the Kerikeri rapist has been revealed as a false complaint.

A 21-year-old Kerikeri woman has pleaded guilty to making a false complaint to police and is due to be sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on December 6.

Four alleged incidents in the town in a six-week period - all involving young women walking home alone after socialising at Rock Salt or the Homestead Tavern - had the town on edge and sparked a major police operation, with night-time patrols boosted and extra detectives drafted in from as far away as South Auckland.

The crew of the crime-busting TV show Police Ten-7 travelled to Kerikeri to film an episode in the hope of eliciting information from the public about a suspected serial rapist. While some tip-offs were received as to the rapist's possible identity, none turned into solid leads.

In the first case, in the early hours of July 9, an 18-year-old woman was allegedly raped on Fairway Drive, near the intersection with Homestead Rd.

The second reported rape involved another 18-year-old at the Kerikeri Domain grandstand on July 18.

In the third, on July 23, a woman said she had been grabbed from behind at the intersection of Cobham Court and Cobham Rd, but escaped when her attacker was disturbed by the lights of an approaching car.

In the fourth incident, on August 21, just days before the Police Ten-7 crew arrived, a woman fled from Cobham Rd when she was approached by a man in the same way the previous attacks had started. She reached her home unharmed.

Northland police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett confirmed a 21-year-old woman had been charged with making a false complaint and had entered a guilty plea.

Police were, however, continuing to investigate two other complaints and were taking them seriously, she said.

The Advocate understands the incident reported on July 23 is related to the false complaint charge.

At the time police stepped up patrols and visited Kerikeri bars to advise pub-goers not to let their friends walk home alone.

Police Ten-7 presenter Graham Bell, a retired Detective Inspector, said he was asked to help solve many crimes around the country, but chose the Kerikeri sex attacks because of their seriousness.

The identity of the woman who pleaded guilty to making a false complaint cannot be revealed.