A WOMAN has been jailed for lying four times about being raped.

Cathy Richardson, 26, admitted pretending to be a rape victim on four occasions between November 2012 and February this year.

Richardson, of Viking Court, Shoebury, admitted perverting the course of justice at Basildon Crown Court yesterday and was jailed for a year.

She accused a man, in his twenties, she knew in Southend.

He was arrested in November on suspicion of rape and later released without charge.

Unemployed Richardson made three further accusations, then she was arrested at her home in February and charged in May.

Det Chief Insp Scott Cannon said: “When a false allegation of rape is made, it heightens the difficulty for those victims who have suffered from sexual abuse.

“The outcome of this prosecution should act as a very clear message to those people who deliberately lie to police and significantly hinder a major investigation.

“Theactionsof Cathy Richardson in this case led to an innocent man being arrested, having to spend time in a custody cell and undergo an intrusive and personal medical examination.

“He had to endure the stigma of being suspected of a serious offence, only to be cleared of a crime he knew he had not committed.”

MrCannon said his team of detectives had spent many hours on the investigation, hours which could havebeen better spenton protecting some of society’s most vulnerable victims and pursuing real offenders.

He added: “People who make false and malicious allegations jeopardise the hard work that Essex Police and partner agencies have done to increase the confidence levelsof victims reporting sexual crime.

“My team will relentlessly pursue every line of inquiry inasearch for the truth and will always strive to bring sexual offenders to justice.

“I would like to reassure every victim of sexual abuse that Essex Police take anyreport very seriously and will offer all the support and protection we can.”