Wednesday, February 20, 2013

False rape claim teen spared jail

A TEENAGER who cried rape and left the finger of suspicion pointing at an innocent man for two months has been spared a jail term.

Sophie Hooper told police she had been forced to have sex against her will with a man who she had only just met in a pub, claiming he held her down by the neck on his bed after they returned to his home.

She called police who came out in the middle of the night before arresting the man and holding him in custody for more than seven hours.

But Hooper’s allegations were in fact a pack of lies which she didn’t admit for over two months, eventually telling police she was “sorry” for lying.

Southampton Crown Court heard how police began investigating and started to find inconsistencies with her story about what happened on June 25, 2011.

At the end of August that year officers told the man he would not face prosecution and a short time later police received a letter from Hooper, who has just become a mum, that said “maybe calling it rape was wrong”.

The 19-year-old was arrested in September 2011 on suspicion of perverting the course of justice but it was not until January the following year that “she fully accepted the lies she had told” said prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood.

Hooper revealed how in fact the pair had gone to his home from the pub, began kissing and “it just happened” adding that she didn’t say yes or no.

When she left his home she saw a picture of the man’s girlfriend and discovered they were expecting a child, and returned to the pub run by friends of her family who told her she had been raped and to call 999.

She told police: “I shouldn’t have lied, I am sorry,” adding that if she could turn the clock back she would.

The court was told how the man described in a victim impact statement how he felt “sick to the stomach”, felt anxious and unable to go out because even though he was innocent he felt he would be tarred. He said he could not sleep properly and resorted to taking anti-depressants.

Mitigating for Hooper, Fern Russell said it was not a sophisticated plot – she was in a state and made a bad decision out of stupidity rather than malice.

Handing her an eight-month prison term suspended for two years, Recorder Stuart Jones QC said she was lucky not to have gone to jail for what the court deems a very serious offence.

He said: “For him the consequences must have been traumatic in the extreme” but he added that Hooper had just come out of a difficult period of adolescence and her mental health was far from robust.

Hooper, of Tennyson Road, Eastleigh, was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.