A woman who made a series of false rape claims leading to 60 investigations has been jailed following work by specialist detectives.
Cathy Richardson made a series of allegations against two men between January and May last year.
These allegations led to officers carrying out 60 investigations.
As part of these investigations, one of the men she accused was arrested and made subject to a forensic examination.
However, as officers progressed their enquiries into Richardson’s claims, they found that CCTV, phone data, and information from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras showed the alleged attacker was not in the area at the time Richardson alleged the assaults to have taken place.
One of the men even agreed to have a GPS tracking tag fitted to his ankle which would send an alarm to police if it was destroyed or taken off.
On a number of occasions, data from the tag was analysed and showed he was not in the area when Richardson said the attack had taken place.
Richardson, 35, of North Road, Westcliff, was arrested on May 28 last year and later charged with perverting the course of justice.
She admitted 10 counts at Salisbury Crown Court on May 23 this year.
At the same court today (Friday, September 30), she has been jailed for five years and one month.
Detective Inspector James Holmes, who led the investigation, said: “Whenever an allegation of rape or sexual assault comes to us, our starting point is to believe the person making that claim.
“They are awful offences and have a massive impact on those who’ve experienced them, and we have specialist officers and staff who support them and investigate.
“To begin with, Cathy Richardson’s claims were no different and we carried out our enquiries with compassion and empathy.
“However, it quickly became clear the allegations Richardson had made were not what they seemed.
“Her claims do a great disservice to victims of rape and sexual assault who need our help and support.
“And they have had a huge impact on the lives of the two men she had accused.
“Her allegations led to a significant number of investigations which for our officers, taking up a huge number of time and resources which we would have preferred to have directed towards helping genuine victims who really do need us.
“I sincerely hope this case does not put off victims of rape and sexual assault, who really need our help, from reporting offences to us. I want to reassure you that you will be believed, we will support you, and we will investigate what has happened.”