A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has arrived back in the UK and said she will fight to clear her name.
The 19-year-old was given a four-month jail term, suspended for three years, on Tuesday by a judge who said he was giving her a “second chance”.
She hugged her family and legal team and left Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni, weeping and with her head in her hands after she was sentenced for public mischief.
Her mother shouted: “She's coming home” to supporters outside before flying with her daughter to Heathrow Airport on Tuesday night.
Lewis Power QC, the teenager's lawyer, said her legal team would be challenging her conviction and were prepared to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The young woman, from Derbyshire, told the Sun: “I am innocent and the fight will go on to clear my name.
“It's been a nightmare for me, Mum and everyone. Now I just want to be with my friends and family.
“What kept me going was my family and the amazing support of my friends and all other people who got in contact to say they believed me.”
The teenager was stuck on the Mediterranean island for almost five months after claiming she had been raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the town of Ayia Napa on 17 July.
She was charged and spent about a month in prison before being granted bail in August.
The dozen Israelis, aged between 15 and 20, were arrested over the incident and freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.
But she maintains she had consensual sex with one of the Israelis before he pinned her down and raped her with others – a claim all of them deny.
The woman said she had been forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he had raised concerns over her treatment with the Cypriot authorities after the conviction provoked outrage in both Cyprus and the UK.
After the sentencing, he said: “We will be following up on some of the issues in relation to the case. I spoke to the Cypriot foreign minister about that.”
The teenager's family had raised fears that she would suffer permanent damage to her mental health if she was sent to prison, having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told the court he would not be jailing her despite insisting that all the evidence suggested she was guilty.
Sentencing her, he told the packed courtroom: “Her psychological state, her youth, that she has been away from her family, her friends and academic studies this year ... this has led me to decide to give her a second chance and suspend the sentence for three years.”
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