Accusing any person falsely of a crime is a serious offence that can be punished by up to seven years imprisonment, Justice Charles Quin told Yolanda Frederick at her recent sentencing hearing.
Frederick, 21, pleaded guilty to defeating the course of justice by reporting that she had been raped.
The man she accused was arrested and spent time in custody.
The Crown’s case was that Frederick gave a five-page, detailed statement to a police officer and then signed it.
In it, she said she and a friend were out in George Town around 2am. They got a ride from a man who took the friend home first. That was in West Bay.
On the way back, she said, he raped her in a vacant building off West Bay Road after pulling her out of the vehicle. He pushed her up the stairs and told her to take off her clothes. He held a knife to her throat.
She said after he raped her, she told him she was going to report him to the police and he ran off. She went home and washed herself, then called the police.
After giving her statement, she accompanied officers to the scene of the alleged rape. This was an additional waste of police resources, the Crown noted.
The accused man was arrested, interviewed and kept in custody 24 hours.
Frederick subsequently attended the police station and said her allegation was false.
Defence Attorney Phillip McGhee agreed the court would be anxious to mark the fact of the man being wrongfully arrested and detained. But he hoped the court would also agree that the false accusation came about through naiveté and stupidity rather than malice.
He said Frederick was at a low point in her life, which had been characterised by abandonment and abuse.
Mr. McGhee said the encounter did happen, after which she was left in an abandoned room. When she got to the roadside, she hailed a passing car and the driver took her to the police station. ‘The ball started to roll… it was something she allowed to snowball,’ the attorney said.
After a number of days Frederick came to her senses and went to police, embarrassed by the whole incident.
He asked for credit for her guilty plea.
Justice Quin said he was taking that into account, along with a social inquiry report of Frederick’s personal difficulties and a letter of apology she had written.
He said her academic achievement showed she was a bright girl: ‘You knew what you were doing.’ Not only was rape a serious allegation to make, she had introduced the knife aspect to make it violent. As a result an innocent man had been arrested and processed.
Frederick had wasted a considerable amount of police and court time, he pointed out. But most important was the effect on the man.
The sentence of 12 months was meant to be a punishment for her and a deterrent to others, he indicated.