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Monday, 01 September 2014

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University student lied about rape attack in Carlisle

A student has admitted lying about being raped in an incident which sparked widespread fear in Carlisle.

Chloe Jayne Fox, 20, of Spencer Street, Carlisle, told police she had been dragged into an alley, brutally raped against railings and forced to perform a sexual act on her attacker in the early hours of Sunday September 19 last year.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard that aged just 19 at the time of the alleged attack, Fox had only been in the city a matter of days after moving to take up a journalism degree at the University of Cumbria.

Fox was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 180 hours unpaid work and to pay £85 costs. She admitted causing wasteful employment of police time.

Prosecutor Adrienne Harris told magistrates that the allegations came at a time when the women and students of Carlisle were already fearful, following a previous alleged rape.

She said the city was “on high alert” and people had been warned to remain in pairs and not to venture out too late.

Fox had been at a freshers’ event in Carlisle on the night, and left Concrete alone at about 2.25am to return home.

A fellow housemate arrived back at their student accommodation at the same time as Fox, at about 2.50am. Noticing she seemed upset, the friend asked what was wrong and Fox told her she had been attacked.

Moments later, she continued the lie when she rang her mother in Manchester and claimed: “Mum, I’ve been raped.”

Mrs Harris said her mother immediately rang Greater Manchester Police, who promptly passed the allegation on to Cumbria Constabulary. Within minutes, PC Ruth Coates was on her way to visit the alleged victim.

“Chloe described how she had been grabbed by an unknown male as she walked passed Barton Place,” Mrs Harris continued.

“Miss Fox told the police that the male had forced her against some railings and raped her.”

Fox went on to give a detailed description of her mystery rapist – a description, Mrs Harris told the court, of a serial sex offender that the student remembered reading about when she lived in Redditch.

The lie continued, and Fox was taken by police to a special forensic examination centre in Preston, where she was examined by rape experts.

She also described exactly where the incident had taken place, and police sealed off the ‘crime scene’ and sent forensic officers.

Fox was interviewed again on September 21, and warned there might be inconsistencies in her account, and given the chance to retract it.

It was not until 20 days after she made the false allegation, that Fox finally withdrew it and admitted she had made it up.

This was after officers presented her with a series of inconsistencies, including CCTV images that show it took her just three minutes to walk along Warwick Road – not enough time for the serious sex attack she had described to take place.

Mrs Harris said that Fox told officers she had been walking past Barton Place alone and slightly drunk, and began to imagine such a rape.

She continued: “Miss Fox admitted to being prepared for [someone to be arrested] and there was the possibility she may have continued with the allegation. Thankfully, that was not the case.”

Carly Lancaster, defending Fox, said her client was extremely remorseful, and was “upset and confused” when talking about why she made the claims.

Miss Lancaster said that on the night in question, Fox could not remember anything from the Sunday night until the Monday night. It was suggested that perhaps her drink had been spiked, although no evidence was offered supporting this claim.

Miss Lancaster said: “Chloe is still trying to come to terms with why she would make this allegation. She had recently moved to Carlisle and was used to having friends she’d been friends with for many years and she found leaving her family a big upheaval.”

Chairman of the bench, Joe Roe, said: “This is a very serious offence. It is only just short of perverting the course of justice; had someone been identified and charged – and you say yourself you’d have carried on this – it would have been extremely serious for that person.”

  • Genuine victims of crime across Carlisle suffered directly as a result of Fox’s lies, Carlisle magistrates were told.

Prosecutor Adrienne Harris said the major investigation launched in the wake of such a horrific stranger rape had a “serious impact on other investigations”.

She said burglaries and assaults were not investigated as “sufficiently” as would have been liked.

Mrs Harris said senior police officers told her resources were also limited when it came to dealing with two separate indecent assaults in the Greystone Road and Stanwix areas on September 25 and September 18.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard that in total, Cumbria Police dedicated 650 hours of police officers’ time – not including that spent by staff and other agencies – investigating the fake rape. This included 35 hours of overtime.

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