'Wicked' woman jailed over false rape claim

An "irresponsible and wicked" woman was jailed for three years today after she slashed her body, hair and clothing to convince police she was the victim of a serious sexual assault.

A judge told Leyla Ibrahim, 22, she was dishonest from "first to last" as her false claim sparked a major police investigation and led to the arrest of four innocent men.



Her allegation that she was attacked while walking home alone at night led to the suspects being held in custody for more than 60 hours.



One man described his ordeal in detention as "torture" while another attempted self harm, Carlisle Crown Court heard.



Petrol station attendant Ibrahim, of Carlisle, Cumbria, wanted to teach her friends a lesson in January last year after they were said to have refused to give her a lift home.



She told detectives she had been knocked to the ground on a footpath and sexually assaulted by two youths.



Photofits were placed around the city of Carlisle as a team of detectives were deployed for the large-scale manhunt which cost more than £150,000.



The four suspects were arrested but then doubts emerged about Ibrahim's account when a pair of scissors carrying only fibres of her own clothing were found near to the scene of the so-called attack.



Two months after reporting the incident she was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and later charged with the offence.



Ibrahim, who is seven months' pregnant, was then convicted by a jury last month following a 10-day trial.



Sentencing today, Judge Paul Batty QC said: "This is a serious offence. It damages the administration of justice in an extremely sensitive area.



"Every false allegation of rape or serious sexual assault increases the plight of those women who have been the victim of such a dreadful crime and makes it harder to prove where a crime really has taken place.



"Your behaviour throughout these proceedings has been irresponsible in the extreme and many would say wicked.



"You diverted the scant resources of police who looked for the supposed attackers."



He added that "if that was not bad enough" it also led to the arrest of four innocent men.



"They were kept in custody for more than 60 hours and were subjected to extremely distressing examinations of their genitalia," he said.



"One was so upset he attempted self harm.



"You persisted in your dishonest conduct from first to last. You still maintain you were the victim of this serious crime."



The judge said Ibrahim was even given the chance to retract her statement by police who said she needed help and that she convinced a doctor with 20 years of experience in the field that she had suffered extreme pain.



"You went to great lengths to make out an attack had taken place," he continued. "You tore up your clothing, and cut your own body with a pair of scissors.



"You feigned illness and injury.



"When internally examined there was nothing wrong with you.



"It is entirely clear in this case you craved attention and you wanted your friends who had left you that night to know you were the subject of a serious sex attack.



"You wanted to teach them a lesson. You are extremely immature."



Ibrahim, of Deerpark Road, will serve half her sentence in custody before she is released on licence for the remaining period.











Tim Evans, prosecuting, said one of the individuals arrested described his period in custody as "torture" and that he was "devastated" at being linked to the supposed crime.



"Another said the taking of samples was horrible and that people were spreading rumours on his release that he was a rapist," he said.



A bout of depression and self-harm was triggered in a third man during his time in detention, Mr Evans said.



Hilary Manley, defending, said: "There is very little I can say given her comments to the author of the pre-sentence report. She maintains her innocence.



"I have to accept the suffering of the four males arrested who were fortunately released.



"I also accept the impact on the police and society on these sort of offences.



"All I can say was that no actual male was named or deliberately identified but that would be of scant comfort to the four individuals who were kept in custody for some time."



She said the defendant had no psychological background and showed no personality issues prior to January last year.



She had been apparently leading an exemplary life in work with no issues with drugs or excess alcohol - although the trial heard evidence she had been binge drinking on the night of her false claim.



Miss Manley said the defendant, supported by her family in court, was due to give birth on September 12 and wanted her child to stay with her in custody.



Judge Batty praised detectives in the inquiry for their thoroughness in dealing with the "extremely sensitive and delicate case" and said the lead officer and interviewing officer should be commended.



Following sentencing, the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Cath Thundercloud, said: "When this young woman reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted, we took her seriously.



"We conducted a large-scale and complex investigation with dedicated teams of detectives working long hours to gather forensic evidence, manage crime scenes and question suspects and witnesses.



"It was only when we began to uncover evidence to suggest that the incident had not taken place that we began following those lines of inquiry.



"As the senior investigating officer I had to think long and hard about progressing this prosecution. I was concerned that it may deter genuine victims from coming forward.



"We have a duty to present our findings before a judge and jury so that they can ensure that justice is done and this was a rare example where the evidence gathered pointed to the rape not having occurred.



"The most important thing to me now is to ensure that victims of sex assaults continue to call police immediately. You will be taken seriously. You will be supported and we will investigate thoroughly."



Linda Vance, District Crown Prosecutor for Cumbria, said: "This sort of case, where someone fabricates an allegation of sexual assault and continues with that false allegation, is very rare.



"But as in this case, the consequences can be very serious.



"Not only was this false allegation very worrying for the local community who feared there were two attackers still at large in the area, they also resulted in the arrest of four innocent men.



"Perverting the course of justice in this way is a serious matter as it undermines the whole basis of our justice system.



"This case should not in any way deter victims of rape or sexual assault from coming forward. If you have been the victim of sexual assault you will be taken seriously and you will be believed and supported.



"We have been working very closely with the police and voluntary organisations to continue to improve how we deal with sexual offence cases as well as how we support victims in bringing cases to court. And as a result in the last year we have seen an increase in the number of convictions for these offences.



"We will continue to do all we can to provide the best service possible to victims of sexual violence."

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week