Cheating wife cried rape in text message to husband after fit of guilt over affair
Published by onlines on December 5, 2009
A wife texted her husband to tell him she had been raped at home by a stranger because she felt guilty about cheating with her secret lover, a court heard today.
Police immediately launched an investigation and Helen Dalby, 35, went to extraordinary lengths to stand by her false rape claim.
Two innocent men – including her lover – were arrested and spent ‘many hours’ in custody before Dalby’s lies were exposed.
Despite putting the men through a ‘nightmare’ ordeal, Dalby escaped with a 10-month suspended prison sentence after admitting perverting the course of justice at Grimsby Crown Court.
Her actions wasted at least £3,800 of public money and she showed little regard for the men who came under suspicion.
Judge David Tremberg said: ‘They no doubt will have wondered what might have happened to them if this nightmare did not go away.
‘Your lies diverted a massive amount of precious police time and resources from proper duty.’
Judge Tremberg said her behaviour risked weakening the cases of genuine rape victims who came forward and could possibly lead to potentially dangerous offenders being acquitted.
The prosecution pointed out that in other similar cases prison sentences of two years or 18 months had been imposed.
But Judge Tremberg ruled this case was ‘exceptional’ because Dalby did not act out of ’spite or malice’ and imposed a more lenient sentence.
Dalby, of Grimsby, had been having a three-month affair with a man she met through a telephone dating service, the court was told.
On August 15 this year, the day of the incident, Dalby had consensual sex with her lover at her home.
David Cammies, prosecuting, said she dialled 999 at 5.45pm that day and pretended she had been raped 15 minutes earlier by a stranger who had followed her home.
Dalby said the man pushed her into the house and raped her in a bedroom.
She even gave a detailed description of the non-existent rapist.
The police launched a full investigation, seizing clothes, bedding and a cigarette butt supposedly smoked by the rapist.
Inquiries were made at a pub and CCTV was checked at a nearby supermarket.
Dalby was taken to a sexual assault referral centre, where she was given a full medical examination.
A suspect was arrested, asked to account for his movements and also fully examined. Dalby was asked to help create an e-fit image.
Mr Cammies said: ‘She was told someone had been arrested and still she maintained her account.’ Police eliminated the man from the inquiry after he spent seven hours and 34 minutes in custody.
A second suspect – her lover – was identified and his home was searched.
When Dalby’s telephone number was found, ‘police thought they had got their man,’ said Mr Cammies.
But officers soon became suspicious of Dalby’s story and eventually she admitted crying rape.
Despite everything, Dalby’s husband has stood by her and has ’supported her throughout.’
Andrew Petterson, defending, said Dalby made the false allegation because she felt guilty about the affair.
She had expressed remorse and when interviewed by police she eventually apologised for her actions.
He said: ‘This is a woman who is genuinely contrite about her behaviour. It is difficult to understand why she made the allegation.’ Dalby, who had no previous convictions, had a history of anxiety and depression.
The judge made it a condition of her sentence that she live at her home address for six months.
Police appeared surprised by Dalby escaping custody.
After the case, Detective Superintendent Phil Walker urged victims not to be put off from reporting genuine sex attacks.
He said: ‘I can remember at the time of this case there were two other national instances of this – they got lengthy prison sentences, although in this instance there were mitigating factors.
‘It’s not fair to my staff who are taken away from their day job to investigate such cases.
‘More importantly it’s not fair to other people who come forward who are maybe fearful of whether police will believe them because of people making false allegations.’
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