Trainee barrister Rhiannon Brooker jailed for falsely accusing boyfriend of rape

The 30-year-old claimed she had been beaten and assaulted

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Friday 27 June 2014 16:11
Rhiannon Brooker, who has been jailed for three and a half years after she falsely accused her boyfriend of rape so she would have an excuse for failing her legal exams.
Rhiannon Brooker, who has been jailed for three and a half years after she falsely accused her boyfriend of rape so she would have an excuse for failing her legal exams.

A trainee barrister who falsely accused her boyfriend of rape and faked injuries to make it appear he had beaten her has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Rhiannon Brooker, 30, was found guilty of 12 charges of perverting the course of justice at Bristol Crown Court and was sentenced on Thursday.

She falsely claimed Paul Fensome, 46, forced her to have sex with him five times and alleged he caused her to have a miscarriage by punching her in the stomach.

He could have faced a lengthy prison sentence if convicted of the alleged five rapes, six assaults and one charge of false imprisonment between April 2009 and August 2011.

The court heard Brooker falsified the “wicked” allegations so she would have an excuse for failing her legal exams at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

She repeatedly told tutors at the university that her performance suffered from “extenuating circumstances”.

Her boyfriend, Mr Fensome, was arrested, charged and held in custody for more than five weeks before police confirmed his alibis for the accusations.

When phone records and work rosters from his job as a railway signalman proved he could not have committed the attacks, Brooker signed a statement admitting the allegations were false.

But she later retracted it and denied perverting the course of justice in court.

Mr Fensome, who has since received £38,000 in compensation from Avon and Somerset Police and reconciled with his wife, submitted a victim impact statement to the court.

“My life has been turned upside-down and ripped apart,” it said.

“My family and I have been put through an immense amount of stress and heartache, which continues to the present day.”

Judge Julian Lambert said Brooker, of Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire, had lied in an “utterly wicked” way.

"Rhiannon Brooker was a bright star and shining example of what can be achieved by those who lack special privileges," the judge said.

"All that went terribly wrong with tragic consequences when she began to lie. These lies had a terrible, corrosive effect. The effect was like ripples spreading through a pool of sadness."

The judge said two people suffered "dreadfully" due to Brooker's actions - Mr Fensome and Brooker's nine-month-old baby, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Representing Brooker, Sarah Elliott QC, said Brooker’s “real punishment” was being separated from her child.

Miss Elliott added. "It is not exaggeration to say that every single day in prison will be agony for her as a result of that.“

Speaking after the sentencing, Chief Superintendent Sarah Crew, from Avon and Somerset Police, said officers were “initially” taken in by Brooker.

"It would be a travesty if this case were to undermine the confidence and experiences of victims," she added.

"We want to assure all victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse that we will listen to and support you every step of the way."

James Ward, a crown advocate for the Crown Prosecution Service, stressed that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are rarer that widely thought.

"This case was brought both to protect the integrity of genuine rape allegations and victims of rape and because of the devastating effects false allegations of sexual offending can have on genuine victims, innocent people so accused and their families," he said.

"Charging someone who claims to have been raped is not a decision we take lightly."

Additional reporting by PA