British teen found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus is returning home after being granted ‘second chance’ by judge

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 2:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 2:03 pm
The 19-year-old was handed a four-month suspended prison sentence (Photo: Getty Images)

A British teenager who was found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus can now return home after she was granted a “second chance” by a judge, and handed a four-month suspended prison sentence.

The 19-year-old woman hugged her family and legal team and left court weeping, with her head in her hands, after she was sentenced for public mischief,

‘She’s coming home’

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The teen’s mother shouted “she’s coming home” to supporters outside Famagusta District Court following the news, telling reporters she feels “relieved”.

The 19-year-old, from Derbyshire, has been stuck on the island after claiming she was raped by up to 12 Irsraeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.

She was then charged and spent around a month in prison, before being granted bail in August.

The teen signed a retraction statement 10 days later, after which the dozen young men and boys, aged between 15 and 20, who were arrested over the incident were freed.

However, she maintains she was raped after having consensual sex with one of the Israelis and was forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.

Supporters gathered outside the court holding placards which read "we believe you" and "don't be afraid" (Photo: Getty Images)

Unfair treatment?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over the teenager’s treatment with the Cypriot authorities, after her conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.

Her family also raised fears 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.

He told the packed courtroom: "I admit, I have been troubled over this. All the evidence shows that she had lied and prevented the police from doing other serious jobs.

"Twelve people were arrested and seven of them were there for at least 10 days. That was also a serious offence.

"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."

Appealing the conviction

Supporters gathered outside the court holding placards which read "we believe you" and "don't be afraid", while chanting "Cyprus justice, shame on you", "stop blaming the victim" and "you are not alone".

The teen’s lawyers are poised to launch an appeal and hope to fast-track proceedings in Cyprus's supreme court, which could take three to four years.

Mr Power QC said: "Whilst we welcome the fact that the sentence imposed today allows her to go home, we strongly contest the conviction and the fight for her innocence will go on regardless.

"We will be appealing the conviction and will take this case to the Supreme Court of Cyprus and are prepared to fight this case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

"We say and will maintain that this young girl was stripped both of her dignity and her basic human rights."