Incorrect allegations of rape are rare, actually false (as in knowingly malicious) allegations are very much rarer. On 23rd February 2015 the Daily Mail reported on the case of Lisa-Jayne Samuels, a 29 year old woman from Southend, who was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
It seems that Ms Samuels “… wanted her mother to feel sorry for her” (although later in the story it was phrased as wanting to reconcile with her mother) and, in order to facilitate this, claimed that she had been raped. She said that she had been drinking in a pub when an unknown man spiked her drink and later raped her. She called 999 in the early hours of the next morning (10th October 2012).
Ms Samuels stated that he was an acquaintance and provided police with an ‘e-fit’ that led to the arrest of a Terry Brown early in 2013. Ms Samuels attended an ID parade where she picked Mr Brown out.
He was charged with rape but after investigation, it seemed that CCTV showed that the account given by Ms Samuels was incorrect, and after further investigations, the rape charge against Mr Brown was dropped.
On 6th December 2013 Ms Samuels was interviewed by the police when she accepted that she had fabricated the account.
Sentence and Comment
The offence of perverting the course of justice will always lead to a prison sentence, unless there are exceptional circumstances. In this case, the lawyer asked the Judge to suspend the sentence, but this was refused.
The Judge said “Rape is one of the most serious and repulsive crimes there is. A false allegation of rape can have dreadful consequences on the innocent person who has committed no crime whatsoever.
‘It seems your initial call to the police was an impulsive act but you persisted in it, you made an e-fit and identified your supposed attacker in a line up – that was not impulsive. I have a duty to the public, meaning your sentence must be immediate and must be of some length“
Ms Samuels has four children and, it seems, was quite vulnerable, with a history of addiction to drugs and alcohol. These would normally militate against making a custodial sentence immediate. It does seem that Ms Samuels has twice done this before in 2002 – “In 2002, she made false claims to police, but later admitted it was so her mother would not find out she had slept with a Kosovan man. In the same year, she phoned police saying she had been raped in a public toilet and also made a hoax fire call to 999“.
This obviously makes it harder to suspend the sentence (although such a history may be an indicator of further vulnerabilities). One point that isn’t explained is why it took from December 2013 until now for Ms Samuels to be sentenced. If it is that she pleaded not guilty until the day of trial, then this is a further reason that the sentence cannot be suspended. If there was a long period on bail before she was charged, then this is mitigation.
There probably won’t be a (successful at least) appeal against sentence – although 20 months is a long sentence, it is hard to say that it is manifestly excessive, and although the Court of Appeal have (still – after ten years) not given guidance on when a sentence should be suspended, Ms Samuels is not an obvious case for a successful appeal.