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Hoax rape claim cost tax payers £32,000

PUBLISHED: 22:00 18 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:12 03 March 2010

HOAX rape victim Hayley Hirst spun a web of lies which cost tax-payers £32,000 in wasted police time.

Today the lonely 21-year-old, who was believed to have been seeking attention when she made the complaint, is beginning community service and rehabilitation orders.

HOAX rape victim Hayley Hirst spun a web of lies which cost tax-payers £32,000 in wasted police time.

Today the lonely 21-year-old, who was believed to have been seeking attention when she made the complaint, is beginning community service.

Hirst cried wolf, saying she was raped by a balaclava-clad man who forced his way into her Chantry home in Ipswich on May 24.

Her claim sparked a high-profile six-week police investigation.

An incident room was set up, officers made house-to-house inquiries in the Sheldrake Drive area of the estate and combed the area for clues, Lesla Small, prosecuting, told magistrates.

Blonde Hirst, of Turner Road, Ipswich, wept throughout yesterday's hearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court, where she admitted wasting police time.

The court heard Hirst concocted an elaborate tale saying a masked stranger pushed his way into her flat and attacked her. She said she ran upstairs carrying her one-year-old child to get away from him.

"Police took the allegation seriously," said Ms Small. "They used manpower which involved officers on full-time duty."

But officers started to have doubts when they found holes in Hirst's story.

Hirst was visiting a friend at the time of the alleged rape, the court heard.

After confessing to her mother, she admitted the truth to police.

Hirst's rape claim was the last of four similar allegations made by different women between March 2001 and May this year, said Hugh Rowland, mitigating. In March last year police launched a major inquiry after a 16-year-old claimed she had been raped at Ipswich Docks, but three days later allegations were dropped.

Four months later a 17-year-old claimed she was raped in Bramford, only to withdraw her complaint two weeks later.

In January a 36-year-old falsely claimed she was a victim of a double rape in the grounds of St Margaret's church, Ipswich.

Mr Rowland said police had "bitten the bullet" on these three occasions without making charges, but suggested they may have proceeded with Hirst's case to send a "message which will strike home."

Mr Rowland suggested Hirst – who was so ashamed she tried to kill herself – may have made up the story to seek attention.

She had two failed relationships behind her. "She was lonely, she was depressed, she was on her own for much of the time and was clearly not able to keep up with the income she received," he said.

Bench chairman Bernard Hindes sentenced her to two years community rehabilitation order. She was also ordered to carry out 100 hours work in the community.

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