Leeds woman jailed for false sex attack claim which cost £57,900

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A woman has been jailed for eight months after she falsely claimed she had been sexually attacked in the street leading to the arrest of an innocent man.

Diane Marie Whitehead dialled 999 and said she had been attacked in Horsforth on her way to work on the morning of July 22 last year.

She said she was walking through a ginnel when a man asked her for the time before he pushed her up against a wall and grabbed her by her throat.

She said he had a knife and cut her stomach. Martin Robertshaw prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday Whitehead gave a detailed description of the clothes her attacker was wearing. Unfortunately a man wearing clothing that matched her description had been in the area and he was arrested, said Mr Robertshaw.

He was held in custody for 23 hours before he was bailed pending further inquiries, his home was searched, his clothes were taken for forensic examination, he had to undergo DNA checks and his mobile phone was seized.

West Yorkshire Police carried out a “vast” investigation which included 38 witness statements being taken - the estimated cost was £57,900.

But on September 23 when she was seen at Weetwood police station in Leeds and when told no evidence could be found to support her account admitted she had made it up. She said she wanted to get out of a relationship and hoped to get rehoused. Michael Walsh, defending, said: “This was a lie that snowballed and she could not find a way out of it.”

Whitehead, 32, recently of Silk Mill Approach, Leeds admitted doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice and was jailed for eight months.

Kevin Hollinrake MP for Thirsk and Malton Picture: Anna Gowthorpe

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