A spurned lover whose cry of rape cost police coffers £10,000 was jailed for nine months yesterday.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Lisha Tait cried rape after being given the “cold shoulder” in a Belfast nightclub by a man she had a previous liaison with.
The 22-year-old, from Laurel Lodge in the Flush Gardens area of Lisburn, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
The charge relates to making a false report and two false written statements to police on dates between July 6 and August 15, 2013 claiming she had been raped.
Crown prosecutor Simon Jenkins said the series of events began in the early hours of July 7 when police received a call from the Ambulance Service in relation to a distressed woman who claimed she had been raped outside the Odyssey complex in Belfast.
After making the claim, Tait was taken to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Antrim, where she was examined.
At this stage, she made a formal complaint claiming a man she knew had penetrated her without consent at billboards outside the Odyssey.
Mr Jenkins said that on August 13, Tait made a written statement claiming the man had spoken to her in the Beach Club before grabbing her and sexually assaulting her outside. She made a second written statement the following day, claiming that due to her level of intoxication, she had been confused about the details of the incident.
The court heard that on September 4 the man Tait accused of rape attended a police station voluntarily, where he was questioned for around two hours. He admitted he had spoken to her in the club but said he didn’t leave the premises and denied her allegation that he had sexually assaulted her outside.
He also told police they had “been together consensually that week” and had stayed in a hotel.
The prosecutor said the man gave a DNA sample, and that during the police investigation – which amounted to £10,000 – officers examined CCTV footage that showed Tait exiting the Odyssey complex alone in an intoxicated state and leaving by herself in a taxi. Witness statements also supported the man’s claim that he didn’t leave the club at any stage.
Tait was again interviewed by police and on September 16 she said she wanted to “tell the truth”. Mr Jenkins said the following day Tait made a statement to police “confirming that she made the entire story up and the male had not sexually assaulted her at any stage”.
When she was interviewed about the false statement on September 25, Tait said she made the allegation up “on the basis that the male had given her the cold shoulder in the club”. The prosecutor said Tait had expressed remorse and apologised for wasting police time. He did, however, point out that despite making the allegation, she “didn’t come clean for some two months”.
Defence barrister Mark Farrell cited the incident as “tragic”, telling the court “this is a case of a woman scorned” who initially felt she could develop a relationship with the man in question.
He said: “It is the case that the defendant, with alcohol on board, decided that she had been rejected and she turned to one of the meanest false allegations to make against a male by a female.”
Mr Farrell added: “She felt rejected by the injured party, but she now has a high level of empathy for what she did to him.”
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said he accepted Tait had displayed “genuine remorse” but said the case fell within the category of “the incrimination of an innocent person”.