A woman who lied that her ex-boyfriend raped her - resulting in an innocent man being locked-up in top-security HMP Belmarsh and facing a crown court trial for an offence he did not commit - has received a suspended prison sentence.
April Bailey, 34, of Zealand House, Maryon Road, Woolwich pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at Plumstead Police Station on January 25, last year when making the false allegation against Andrew Frith, 36, who has since forgiven her.
"This must have made this man's life absolute hell," said Isleworth Crown Court Judge Douglas Marks Moore. "This is a bad offence and what must not be forgotten is the victim and his suffering.
"It's important to remember he was in custody and looking down the barrel of a long custodial sentence," added the judge, who told Bailey: "What you did was an appalling thing and someone suffered very badly."
Bailey was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, was placed on an eighteen month supervision order and must obey an electronically-tagged six-month night time curfew from 8pm to 8am.
Prosecutor Mr. Ben Temple said: "She had a long-standing relationship with Mr. Frith, on and off and in January, last year, made a complaint to the police and her allegation was that she had been raped by her partner.
"They had been in a relationship for twelve years, but had broken up over New Year and she alleged it had been an abusive relationship with domestic violence, but had never reported anything like that.
"She said she had been raped and gave a lot of detail about being at a friend's house and receiving a number of texts and calls from Mr. Frith, resulting in them meeting-up."
The pair had a few drinks and Bailey told police: "He kept touching me and I kept telling him to stop."
"She said he tried to kiss her and she declined and he later threw her to the floor and punched her in the back, likening herself to a punchbag," added Mr. Temple.
"They went to sleep, she alleged, but as she woke he forced himself on her and made her have sex with him."
Bailey claimed: "I was crying and telling him: 'No, I don't want to have sex with you."
She was taken to a specialist Haven suite for victim of sex crime, where bruising was noted, intimate swabs taken and she gave a video-taped interview.
Mr. Frith was arrested on January 27 and immediately told the officers: "I think I know who this girl is. Was it April? That girl is crazy."
The next day he was remanded in custody by Bromley Magistrates Court and remained lock-up for twelve days until he was granted conditional bail.
On February 6 Bailey again spoke to police and persisted with the fictitious rape-claim, despite details of her account proving false.
"She admitted to the officer that she lied about the manner in which she left the house and where she had gone," explained the prosecutor.
"She apologised for that lie, but stressed the rest of her account was true and accurate.
"They built a case against Mr. Frith, a prosecution case took shape, there were consultations with the Crown Prosecution Service and a trial date set.
"Five months later she came into the police station saying she was unwilling to go to court, saying the defendant hadn't raped her and she had lied.
"She said the bruising and injuries were nothing more than the result of heavy drinking and being restrained by Mr. Frith."
Bailey's lawyer Miss Frances Ridout told the court: "Mr. Frith 'tried it on' to use her words and she was resisting and after numerous attempts she gave in and that's when consensual sex happened.
"Her friend convinced her it was rape and was wrong. She's a vulnerable young woman and her friend saw her emotional, upset and with bruises.
"She brought things to a conclusion and retracted the allegation. This was not a pre-planned or malicious allegation, but things getting out of control."
Judge Moore added: "She had sufficient time to say: 'No, what I've done is wrong.' She has made an allegation against an innocent man, fine-tuned the case and he spent twelve days detained and five months charged."