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Student, 22, who falsely accused a taxi driver of rape jailed for 16 months

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A criminology student has been jailed for falsely accusing a taxi driver of raping her after he refused to accept a £10 note covered in kebab oil.

Sophie Pointon, 22, called police in the early hours of April 22, this year and told officers she had been molested in the back of the cab she had been picked up in after a night out. She went on to sign a statement giving an account of the attack, in Leeds, West Yorks, England.

Following the accusation, the driver, a father-of-five, was tracked down and kept in custody for six hours, Leeds Crown Court heard. He was also unable to work for four weeks as a result of the claim. The driver described in a statement how the false allegation had caused him to suffer from stress.

Kate Bisset, prosecuting, said the driver was interviewed and said he could recall Pointon being “extremely drunk” when she got into his car holding a kebab. He said Pointon threw a £10 note at him when they reached the Hyde Park area but he refused to accept it as it was covered in oil from the kebab. The driver said Pointon then became abusive and ran around the car opening doors.

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The prosecutor said: “He did not think much of it at the time because such incident with people who are intoxicated are not unusual.”

A recording of a conversation between the driver and a phone operator at his taxi office supported his account. The court heard a GPS tracker fitted to the car also revealed Pointon’s description of the taxi journey to be untrue.

When Pointon’s account of the incident was challenged by police, she broke down in tears and asked if she could drop the charges. She pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and was jailed for 16 months.

Denise Breen-Lawton, mitigating, said Pointon, of Manchester, had been studying in Leeds at the time. She said her hopes of becoming a police officer were now ruined.

Judge Christopher Batty told her: “Your malicious complaint has done a huge disservice to those seeking justice through the police and courts.”