A DETECTIVE whose innovative work disproved a woman's false rape claims and led to her being jailed has been honoured with a commendation.

Last September, Cathy Richardson of North Road, Westcliff, was jailed for five years and one month for making a series of false rape claims that led to 60 investigations by Essex Police.

She initially reported a rape claim to Essex police in January 2021, when Det Insp James Holmes had only just joined the adult sexual abuse investigation team.

When the force grew suspicious the claims may be untrue, Mr Holmes recommended the use of a GPS tracking tag on one of the men accused of rape.

When the woman made further allegations, the GPS tracking proved he was not at the location of the alleged crime at the time of the offence and proved vital in Richardson's prosecution.

Now, chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington has praised the detective for his "innovative thinking" and presented him with a commendation for his work.

Mr Harrington said: "This was an extremely complex case but James’ innovative thinking, which led to one of the accused men agreeing to wear a tag during the investigation, was key to disproving his accuser’s claims.

“We work hard in Essex to keep people safe and our Adult Sexual Abuse Investigation Teams are dedicated specialists who conduct their investigations with compassion and empathy.

“We take every report of rape and serious sexual offences seriously and our starting point is always to believe the victim.

“But it is vital for us, as police officers, to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty.

“This took up a huge amount of police time, which could have been devoted to helping, and investigating the claims of, genuine victims.

“I hope this case does not discourage any victim of rape and other sexual assaults from reporting offences to us and seeking help."

After initial reports by 35-year-old Richardson, officers found that CCTV, phone data, and information from automatic number plate recognition cameras showed the alleged attacker was not in the area at the time Richardson alleged the assaults to have taken place.

Mr Holmes said: “Our objective was to get her the help she needed but the only avenue open to us was criminal justice and court because she wouldn’t engage with us or the Crown Prosecution Service, taking her to court was the last resort.”