Woman avoids jail over her taxi driver rape lies
A young Dublin woman has been given a suspended sentence after falsely claiming a taxi driver raped her yards away from her home.
A full garda investigation was launched after Cara Leonard (20) reported the incident to gardai in September 2010 but no man was ever arrested or questioned.
She claimed that the man had raped her in the vehicle after she got a taxi home from a night out. She said her boyfriend and another man had been in the taxi but were dropped off before her.
She claimed the driver had asked her about her night out and said that she was pretty before he grabbed her and kissed her neck, face and lips.
She said he then "hopped" into the back seat of the car, undid his belt and put his hands down into her shorts and underwear before raping her.
Leonard told gardai she screamed and shouted and eventually got out of the taxi. She said she did not call the gardai straight away because she needed some sleep.
Garda Karen McCoy told Cathleen Noctor, prosecuting, that she carried out extensive searches for the particular vehicle in which Leonard alleged the rape took place, spoke to several taxi drivers on a particular rank and analysed CCTV footage of the route Leonard said the taxi had taken.
Leonard was also taken to the Sexual Assault Unit in the Rotunda Hospital for examination.
Leonard did not withdraw the statement until gardai contacted her over two months later to clear up some "ambiguities" in her initial complaint.
She recounted the incident again but gave a different story, eventually telling gardai: "He did not rape me."
Leonard still maintained that the taxi driver had tried to kiss her and said that she had made up the allegation because she did not want him to kiss her.
In December 2010, she made another statement to gardai in which she admitted making a false allegation. She said she had little recollection of the night due to the amount of alcohol she had taken.
She told gardai: "It was just in my head when I woke up" and when asked why she had not withdrawn the allegation she replied: "I did not know what to do."
When asked by Judge Martin Nolan what Leonard was like, Garda McCoy said: "I would not by any means say she has no understanding of what is going on."
Leonard of Briarfield Road, Kilbarrack, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making a false statement at Raheny Garda Station on September 1, 2010.
Judge Nolan sentenced her to three years, which he suspended in full. He said the offence was "profoundly immoral" and acknowledged the "great inconvenience to gardai".
"The only redeeming feature in the case, which has nothing to do with her, was that no one was nominated as a suspect," the judge said.
He accepted she had "underlying difficulties" and "an amount of alcohol taken" but said he was satisfied that she knew the difference between right and wrong.
Garda McCoy agreed with Gerardine Small, defending, that everyone the gardai spoke to, who had been in contact with Leonard that night, maintained that she was highly intoxicated and they could not make sense of what she was saying.
Ms Small said Leonard had a history of self harm and alcohol abuse. She said her client had suffered a "memory black out" on the night due to her excessive drinking.