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British woman convicted of lying about Cyprus gang rape may get pardon

6 January 2020 National News

A British woman found guilty of fabricating a claim that she was raped by a gang of Israeli youths is likely to fly home tomorrow, even if she is given a prison sentence.

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The 19-year-old, from Derbyshire, insists she was the victim of a horrific attack.

She has told a court in Cyprus that a statement she made withdrawing her allegations was given under duress and while facing threats from Cypriot police.

Last week, she was found guilty of the offence of "public mischief" – in other words, of falsifying an allegation of a crime.

The judge said she had willingly had sex with one man, and then lied out of a sense of shame.

The woman was told that she faced up to a year in prison.

However, it is understood that the most likely sentence is either a fine or a suspended sentence. In both cases, she would then be free and return to Britain.

If she is sent to prison, but for a period of around a month or less, she would also be allowed to leave because she has already spent time in detention.

However, if the judge were to impose a harsher prison term, it is understood that the woman would likely receive a presidential pardon almost immediately, again allowing her to return home.

"It would be the only way to stop her ending up in prison, so a presidential pardon would be very likely," one Cypriot source told Sky News.

"Diplomatically, there is no desire for this woman to be sent to prison."

But even a pardon would not exonerate her from the conviction for fabricating the attack.

The woman’s lawyer, Michael Poleak, told Sky News she would continue with an appeal and is prepared to go to the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights – even if that process took years.

The guilty verdict led to protests in both Cyprus and Britain, with the government describing it as a "distressing" case.

Sky News understands that significant diplomatic efforts have been made to avoid the chance of the woman being sent to prison, with senior UK diplomats convinced she is the victim of a brutal crime, and a miscarriage of justice.

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