False Rape Claim Case
9 December 2014, 18:57
Prosecutors say it was right to pursue a criminal case against a woman from London accused of making a false rape claim who later took her own life.
Eleanor de Freitas, 23, (pictured) killed herself on 7 April 2014 this year, three days before her trial for perverting the course of justice was to start at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), carried out an examination into the case of Miss de Freitas, who had bipolar disorder and had been sectioned in a mental health unit in the past.
Ms Saunders said: "Having considered the detail and the issues raised by the family, I am satisfied that the decision-making in this case was correct and that it was made in accordance with our policies and guidance."
The Metropolitan Police received an allegation of rape from Miss de Freitas in January 2013 but the case was dropped after a man was arrested and released due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
Her alleged attacker initiated a private prosecution against her to clear his name. The case was later referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which decided to continue with proceedings.
Ms Saunders said she had met with Miss de Freitas's father David, who has previously criticised the CPS for pursuing his daughter.
"Cases of perverting the course of justice or wasting police time in relation to an alleged false rape claim are rare, but where there is sufficient evidence to show that a false claim may have been made, the potential harm to those affected must be very carefully considered and an appropriate decision made," the DPP said.
Ms Saunders said Miss De Freitas's case was "one of the most complex I have seen".
She said the case met the test for the CPS to take over the prosecution, which would have continued privately regardless of whether they intervened.
The DPP added: "The evidence in this case was strong and having considered it in light of all of our knowledge and guidance on prosecuting sexual offences and allegedly false rape claims, it is clear there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for perverting the course of justice."
Ms Saunders said evidence included text messages and CCTV footage that directly contradicted the account Ms de Freitas gave to the police.
She said: "It was on this basis that we concluded that there was a realistic prospect of proving that the rape allegation made by Ms de Freitas was false, and there was also a strong public interest in prosecuting due to the seriousness of the alleged offence which was maintained by the defendant for some time and which led to the arrest of an individual."
The DPP also said she was satisfied prosecutors had taken necessary steps in considering Miss De Freitas' mental health.
A detailed report by a consultant forensic psychiatrist instructed by Miss de Freitas' legal team recommended that she was aware of the implications of making a false allegation and was fit to stand trial.