Friday, May 11, 2012

College student falsely accuses man of rape to win back boyfriend

In March 2011, Hannah Byron, then a psychology student at University of Teesside, met a man outside a Middlesbrough bar, shared a taxi with him, and had consensual sex with him.

Byron, who is now 20-years-old, had recently split with her boyfriend, but wanted to win him back. So in the early hours of the morning, she concocted a scheme to do just that: she sent texts to the former boyfriend telling him she had been raped. The boyfriend called the police, and Byron "reluctantly" named the innocent man with whom she had consensual sex.

The innocent man was arrested at his home and detained in police custody for almost nine hours. According to a detective, the innocent man was put through an enormous amount of stress through being arrested and questioned over the false claim. If he had been tried for rape, he could have been facing a lengthy prison sentence. "It must have been a very harrowing experience for him,” a judge later said.

Byron's defense in putting an innocent man at great peril of losing his liberty was that her behavior was "very foolish."

The innocent man was released only after he showed the police a video of the sex act, which clearly showed he had not rape Byron. It is not clear if the innocent man would have been charged for rape if he had not revealed the video.

Byron pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice but convinced a judge not to send her to prison. Her defense was that she got caught up in “a snowballing situation.” If she had told police the truth, it might have subjected her to criminal charges and jeopardized her chances of reuniting with her former boyfriend. Her barrister made it clear to the court that she "did not want not make the complaint," but did anyway.

Judge George Moorhouse gave Byron a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with a supervision requirement for 12 months and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. The judge told her that she had avoided prison “by a short whisker."

Detective Constable James Emery said the victim of the malicious report was relieved that the case is now at an end. He said that such allegations are a drain on police resources and after the sentence genuine victims of sexual assaults may be put off from approaching police.

The detective added: “We would like to reiterate that we continue to treat all such allegations seriously and wish to reassure the community that such reports will always be taken seriously and will be fully and properly investigated.”