It was a debt of just £3,000 to a drug dealer. To get out of the debt she agreed to make false claims of rape. Well, the dealer wanted to settle his grudge against someone that way. Now the 21-year-old Samantha Merry has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.
She claimed that she had been sexually assaulted by the man in a brutal attack which allegedly happened in front of a group of people.
Her victim was arrested in front of his partner and their children at 4am and driven to a police station where intimate swabs were taken and he was held in a cell for 23 hours.
He remained on bail for 15 weeks with the threat of a lengthy jail term hanging over him while officers investigated the allegations.
But CCTV footage showed the man could not have attacked Merry.
The court heard that Merry claimed she was attacked on March 3 this year.
She made a detailed 13-page statement, leading to a case that cost Essex Police thousands of pounds, including 235 man hours and £3,700 on forensic tests.
CCTV footage later revealed that she had lied and on June 14 she was arrested.
Richard Stevens, prosecuting, said: "She said she had a drugs debt of £3,000 involving crack cocaine. The dealer had told her to accuse the victim of rape and it was her hope that doing so might wipe her debt."
Paul Donnegan, defending, said his client had no previous criminal record and had suffered abuse in the street since she admitted to lying.
Merry, an office junior, admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for 18 months yesterday.
Turning down her pleas to spare her prison, Judge Anthony Goldstaub, QC, of the Chelmsford Crown Court said it was a "careful and wicked deception."
He added: "Some might say if you try to send someone to prison for five or six years you really deserve to go to prison yourself. The effect on the victim is appalling. It was premeditated and mercenary."
He also pointedly told her that her lies could stop genuine rape victims coming forward for fear they would not be believed.