British teenager can return home after avoiding jail in Cyprus

Her face covered, the British teenager leaves court in Famagusta after being freed by a judge. Picture: PA
Her face covered, the British teenager leaves court in Famagusta after being freed by a judge. Picture: PA
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A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus can return home after a judge said he was giving her a “second chance” and suspended her prison sentence.

The 19-year-old woman hugged her family and legal team and left court weeping, with her head in her hands, after she was sentenced for public mischief.

The teenager’s mother shouted “she’s coming home” to supporters outside Famagusta District Court, telling reporters she felt “relieved”.

Her lawyer, Lewis Power QC, said she will be returning home later today, but said her legal team would be challenging her conviction and were prepared to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The teenager, from Derbyshire, has been stuck on the island after claiming she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on 17 July.

She was charged and spent about a month in prison before being granted bail in August.

The dozen young men and boys, aged between 15 and 20, arrested over the incident were freed after she signed a retraction statement ten days later.

But she maintains she was raped after having consensual sex with one of the Israelis and forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over her treatment with the Cypriot authorities, after the teenager’s conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.

And her family had raised fears she would suffer permanent damage to her mental health if she was sent to prison, having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told the court he would not be jailing her, despite insisting all the evidence suggested she was guilty.

He told the packed courtroom: “I admit, I have been troubled over this.

“All the evidence shows that she had lied and prevented the police from doing other serious jobs.

“Twelve people were arrested and seven of them were there for at least ten days. That was also a serious offence.

“Her psychological state, her youth, that she has been away from her family, her friends and academic studies this year, this has led me to decide to give her a second chance and suspend the sentence for three years.”