FALSE RAPE: MUM JAILED

A MOTHER-of-two who made a false rape claim which led to an innocent man being put behind bars has been jailed for six months. Burnley Crown Court heard how Mark Ward was arrested, locked up for four days and was banned from returning to his home or family for two months after Nicola Douglas lied to police.

Douglas had claimed she was attacked in a Nelson subway and told police Mr Ward was responsible.

Mr Ward, then of Ronaldsway, Nelson, was plunged into depression and became a victim of violence and name-calling in the town after he was accused of the alleged midnight sex assault.

In addition, police launched an investigation into Douglas's claims and she only "came clean" when presented with forensic evidence which put Mr Ward in the clear, the court was told.

Judge Stuart Baker told her the case was "truly very serious" and the public would feel "overwhelming outrage" if she was not jailed. The judge said Mr Ward had not touched the defendant, was completely innocent and Douglas had known what she was doing when she accused him.

Mr Ward, he added, could have been sent to jail if she had proceeded with her allegation. Douglas (29), of East Croft, Nelson, had earlier admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice. She had no previous convictions.

Mr Nicholas Holt (prosecuting) said on June 14th, police received a call from the defendant's father saying she had been set upon in a subway. Officers went there and saw Douglas lying on the ground. She told officers she had been attacked and raped and was taken to be examined by a police surgeon. Samples were taken and the defendant said she did not know her assailant's identity.

Mr Holt said police treated her complaint seriously, a senior officer was put in the charge of the investigation and trained search officers were called in. Douglas had rung her friend from the scene and provided the name Mark.

The defendant was questioned about that information and when later interviewed supplied Mr Ward's full name and details.

The prosecutor said Mr Ward was arrested on suspicion of rape and taken to the police station. He was charged, appeared before magistrates, remanded in custody but later bailed by a judge. He was ordered to live in Manchester and not to go near Douglas.

Mr Holt said samples from the defendant were sent for forensic analysis.

Douglas confessed Mr Ward was not responsible after the results of the tests. Mr Ward was cleared when no evidence was offered against him last August.

Mr Philip Holden (defending) said Douglas steadfastly maintained she had been attacked and that what took place was an attempted rape.

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