Belfast Telegraph

Rape lie woman labelled a compulsive liar will spend Christmas in jail

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A 'compulsive liar' jailed after she falsely accused a former boyfriend of rape after he ended their on-off relationship by text will be freed within weeks.

Natasha Foster, a mother-of-one from the Ballymoney Road in Ballymena, was sent to jail yesterday by Judge Desmond Marrinan who said that such wicked accusations could be seen as an attack on the criminal justice system.

He also said such accusations add to the plight of genuine rape victims, undermining their claims in the eyes of the public and also making it difficult for juries having to decide such cases.

The 23-year-old was given a three-month term, but will only serve half in jail. She could therefore be freed within six weeks.

The Antrim Crown Court judge said it was a difficult case when it came to deciding what was a fair, just and proportionate sentence.

However, while a sentence of six months, if not longer, would be justified, given the mitigating factors, such as her genuine remorse, and the fact she was now a young mother, he would reduce the sentence to three months.

Foster, who admitted a charge of perverting the course of public justice, is the third woman in Northern Ireland to be sentenced for making similar claims. In 2010, Newtownabbey woman Lindsay Gorman was jailed for nine months, while last January a Dromore woman, Belinda Poots Sneddon, was given a two-year suspended jail term plus a £1,000 fine.

Judge Marrinan said that in November 2011 Foster, who had a new boyfriend, still harboured the hope of a reconciliation with her former lover, known in court as Mr X. He had called at her home to collect some belongings, during which 'something happened'.

A short time later, Mr X sent a text message indicating he was not going to resume the relationship.

While the judge said this may well be described as a "somewhat ungallant act", it did not warrant or justify what Foster did next, which was to inform her new boyfriend, and later the police, that Mr X had raped her.

Judge Marrinan said defence lawyer Michael Smith had described Foster as a 'woman scorned'. He saw her behaviour as a mixture of impulsivity, anger and hurt and a sense of rejection, which resulted in Mr X being arrested and spending nearly 12 hours in custody. However, two days later, 'in the sober light of two dawns', Foster went to police and confessed that any sex was consensual.

The judge added that into this rather volatile scenario, Foster later discovered she was pregnant. He said she gave birth to a son, a healthy innocent little boy, and continued to harbour the forlorn, but unrealistic, hope that the relationship with Mr X, who took out a non-molestation order against her, could be re-ignited.

The senior Antrim judge said that fortunately such false allegations of rape are relatively uncommon, but that where they occurred, they must and had to be treated as serious, as false complaints can make it difficult for genuine victims to come forward.

Judge Marrinan told Foster that when people like her "act in this wicked way and cry rape falsely" it not only increased the plight of women who have been victims of this distasteful crime, it may also create doubt in the minds of the public and may also affect the minds of a jury in such cases.

The judge said a powerful mitigating factor was the fact that Foster went to police within 48 hours, sparing Mr X a conviction and a lengthy period of imprisonment, and also gained protection for his identity and anonymity.

He added that Foster had shown genuine remorse and was extremely regretful for what she had done.

Judge Marrinan said Foster had had the case hanging over her for some time, and that it could have been dealt with over a year ago, another factor in mitigation which could also be taken into consideration by the court. Foster will serve half of her three-month term in custody, after which she will serve the same period on supervised licenced parole. Judge Marrian told her she should be freed shortly after the new year.

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