Eleanor de Freitas: DPP to investigate case of alleged rape victim who killed herself after being charged with making false accusation

Ms de Freitas had bipolar disorder and left notes to her family describing her fear of giving evidence at trial

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has said she will personally investigate a case after a woman who was charged with making a false rape accusation killed herself three days before she was due to stand trial.

Eleanor de Freitas, a student who suffered from bipolar, killed herself shortly before her trial was scheduled to begin at Southwark Crown Court.

Ms de Freitas left notes for her family explaining her fear of giving evidence in court as a motive for taking her life, The Guardian reports.

The 23-year-old said she was allegedly drugged and raped by a male associate late in 2012. She did not report the rape for some time after the event and she was told by police they could not proceed further because there was not a realistic chance of conviction.

However, the CPS decided to prosecute Ms De Freitas for allegedly fabricating the rape claims, after the man she accused of attacking her had reportedly  spent £200,000 on pursing bringing a private prosecution against her. The CPS took over the private prosecution.

The CPS were informed by the detective who investigated the rape allegation there was no evidence she had lied.

Her family are now calling for the inquest into her death, due to open today, to be postponed so an inquiry into whether the CPS’ decision to prosecute her may have contributed to her death.

Her father David told the newspaper his daughter was a “vulnerable young woman diagnosed with bipolar”, who made a complaint of rape which resulted in her becoming “the subject of legal proceedings”.

He said his daughter was facing trial despite the fact the police did not believe there was a case against her.

Ms Saunders is now personally investigating her case. She said she was "very saddened" by Ms de Freitas tragic death and said she has asked those who worked on the case for a "full explanation"

In a statement, Ms Saunders said: "I have asked the team which dealt with this case for a full explanation which addresses all of the de Freitas family's concerns.

"I appreciate the family's unease which is why I am looking at this personally in order to satisfy myself of the detail surrounding all the stages of the case.

"Prosecuting cases of perverting the course of justice in connection with an alleged false rape allegation is rare, extremely difficult and always complex and sensitive.

"This case was one of the most difficult I have seen. To say any more at this stage would be inappropriate until I can answer the de Freitas family's concerns fully and directly."

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police said the force received an allegation of rape in south west London on 4 January, 2013. The spokesperson said a man was arrested and subsequently released with no further action due to lack of evidence, and the case was closed.