By Jenni Davidson
A Brighton woman has been jailed for perverting the course of justice after falsely claiming to have been raped.
Her story sparked fears that a serial attacker was at large in the city.
Sharlene James, 26, of Parham Close, Brighton, was found guilty of committing a series of acts with intent to pervert the course of justice at Lewes Crown Court yesterday (Thursday 20 February).
She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
The court heard that in the early hours of 8 November 2011 she claimed to have been pulled into the New Steine community gardens and raped by a man who had tried to engage her in conversation.
Police were already investigating a number of incidents in the Kemp Town area at the time of the allegation.
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said: “As in all cases we took this report very seriously and were quick to respond.
“On launching an extensive investigation we quickly concluded that this offence did not take place and aside from raising unnecessary anxiety and alarm, many hours were wasted that could have been put to better use investigating genuine reports of crime.
“I would like to stress that this will not affect in any way our response to reports of sexual offences and I would urge anyone who is a victim to contact us, even if the incident happened a while ago.
“We will take your report seriously and it will be dealt with sensitively and confidentially.”