British student facing extradition to Italy over alleged false rape claims

The accused man walked free while the student will be tried in Italian courts

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The Independent Online

A British fashion student faces being extradited to Italy and up to 12 years in prison if she is found guilty of making false rape allegations.

Serena Bowes, 21, who has waived her right to anonymity, claimed she was raped in a nightclub toilet by a man she met in the venue while on a study visit to Florence in May.

She claims she went to the nightclub with a group of friends and had started talking to a man before the pair made their way to the VIP area of the club and the suspect took her to the unisex toilet where he is said to have sexually attacked her.

Even though the alleged assault was reported to authorities and she was examined in hospital, Italian reports said police had watched CCTV images which showed her leaving the bathroom with the alleged rapist.

He faced no further action, while she received a letter back at home in Newcastle stating that she faced charges of falsifying rape - which she denies - and the trial could go ahead without her presence if she has not found suitable legal representation.

Miss Bowes, from Newcastle, had said: "I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.

"If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over."

The student, who hopes to join the army after graduating, will be automatically granted two appeals if found guilty and judges could start extradition proceedings.

Her mother Adele told the Newcastle Chronicle: "It's like my hands are tied behind my back and I'm waiting for them to kidnap my daughter."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of an incident involving a British national in May 2014. We provided consular assistance when notified of this in October 2014.

"We stand ready to provide further support to the individual and their family at this difficult time."