CHARLES GRAHAM - Menace of crying rape

A YOUNG Wigan man was beginning an eight-month prison sentence this week after he cried rape.

Robert O’Brien, a 20-year-old from Shevington, had a steady girlfriend but also had secret yearnings which were manifested when he accepted a lift home from a man he met in a bar.

They had consensual sex but afterwards the apprentice plumber became plagued by either guilt or by fear of what other people might think.

So on the spur of the moment he decided to tell his parents that he had been raped by the 39-year-old whom he also named.

Why he felt the need to do this rather than just keep the infidelity to himself wasn’t made clear on sentencing day. Perhaps he thought the other man would let the cat out of the bag about what happened and so O’Brien decided to pre-empt that by dreaming up the crime.

Whatever his motives it had serious consequences for all concerned. The driver was arrested by police on suspicion of rape; his car, clothing and mobile phone were all seized; he was forced to give an intimate sample and was kept in custody for several hours and quizzed by officers.

But then holes began to appear in O’Brien’s story, not least discrepancies with a statement given by his partner.

Realising his story was in trouble, O’Brien tried to drop the allegation while maintaining his claim was true, but that only served to draw even more police attention to himself. And when he was arrested, O’Brien broke down altogether and admitted he had been lying.

The result was that he was charged with perverting the course of justice after large amounts of police time and resources were wasted on a crime which did not take place. O’Brien’s 11-year relationship with his girlfriend also came to an end.

A very sad and embarrassing situation for all concerned.

I have to say I feel sorry for O’Brien to a certain degree. His sexual proclivities shouldn’t be the public’s business and his actions after that encounter on top of Ashurst Beacon were perhaps more the deeds of a panicking man rather than one motivated by spite.

But the moment the police had to get involved to investigate a false claim of rape, he became the architect of his own downfall and the cause of his humiliation and incarceration.

As both the judge and the investigating officer said in the aftermath of this case, to make such bogus allegations not only wastes police resources and diverts them away from investigating real crimes, but also undermines genuine investigations into sexual assaults and makes it harder to secure convictions.

It can be hard enough for detectives and prosecutors to prove rapes have taken place when there is little more evidence than one person’s word against another, without people making up stories and making false accusations to cover their own mistakes and shame.Mena