Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Hampshire woman jailed for false rape claim

A woman who made a false rape allegation that led to an innocent man being arrested has been jailed.

Rosanne England, 21, cut and then tore her underwear and scratched her own face before telling police a masked stranger had entered her house.

Derek Cummings, 59, who had never met England, was arrested because he fitted the description and had no alibi.

England, of Holbury near Southampton, admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for 18 months.

Winchester Crown Court heard England told officers the man had asked to use her phone and toilet because his car had broken down.

She said after entering her home he donned a joke dog mask and attacked her in May last year.

I do not want to see a 21-year-old woman jailed but she knew I had been arrested and I was totally innocent
Derek Cummings

The businesswoman gave Hampshire police a detailed description and officers launched a manhunt and produced an e-fit.

Mr Cummings, a married father of two teenage daughters who was at a sport and social club nearby, fitted the description and could not offer an alibi because he had been walking his dog in nearby woods alone.

He was arrested and held for 28 hours while samples were taken before being released on police bail.

However, the Forensic Science Service discovered that England's clothing had been cut before being torn and 24 days later she finally admitted to police the allegation was completely untrue.

Mr Cummings, who had suffered abuse from the public, was exonerated.

The court heard that England suffered from mental health problems and was receiving psychiatric help.

Affects 'real' victims

Mark Florida-James, prosecuting, said: "This allegation of a stranger attack was taken very seriously.

"The cul-de-sac where Miss England lived was cordoned off and the force aircraft was used to search the area.

"It is unfortunate he (Mr Cummings) was in the wrong place at the wrong time and bore a resemblance to the description.

"But at no point was there any evidence that Mr Cummings was involved.

"It was completely made up and fabricated and he was totally innocent."

Sentencing England, the Recorder of Winchester, Judge Keith Cutler, said that such an allegation could have left Mr Cummings facing a jail term of at least eight years.

He said: "There is a real effect of all this for women who are genuine victims of this horrendous crime of rape. If people make false claims it impacts on genuine claims and how they are treated."

Mr Cummings said he still had trouble from people close to where he lives in Fawley, Hampshire, who wrongly believe "there is no smoke without fire" and he cannot go into certain pubs.

"My family has been through hell," he said.

"I do not want to see a 21-year-old woman jailed but she knew I had been arrested and I was totally innocent. I have mixed feelings about her."



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