A Brazilian student has been given a three-month suspended sentence and a €600 fine for an “elaborate hoax” in which she claimed she had been raped by two men in Dublin.
Thais Regina De Oliveira, 21, who had been residing with her boyfriend and other flatmates at Cabra Park in Dublin, pleaded guilty today to making a false statement to officers at Mountjoy garda station on August 25 last.
She claimed two men attacked her and gave a detailed description leading to a 12-day manhunt, a photo-fit being distributed and technical examinations.
At Dublin District Court, Judge Anthony Halpin described her crime as wicked, heinous and depraved and he said these offences deter real victims from coming forward. However, he ruled that a jail sentence was not appropriate in this case.
He also praised the “outstanding work” of Det Garda Kevin Keyes and his colleagues at Mountjoy Garda station saying their response to the incident sets a precedent for other police forces.
The student's lies came after she had been under financial pressure to pay her way and she pretended she had found a job. Her lawyer said she really spent some nights “wandering the streets” having let on she had gone to work, but on the night of the offence, it had been raining heavily and she needed an excuse to go home.
The English language student could not tell her friends she had been robbed because she had already left her phone and her wallet in the house, so instead she inflicted injuries on herself and told her friends that she had been raped.
Defence counsel Keith Spencer said that she not intended for gardaí to become involved.
However, once her friends heard her story, “the genie was out of the bottle” and they alerted Mountjoy garda station who dispatched officers within five minutes.
In evidence, Det Gda Kevin Keyes told Judge Halpin he received a report to go to a flat in Cabra where he met De Oliveira.
“She alleged that she had been assaulted, dragged down a lane-way at Cabra Park and subsequently raped,” he said. She claimed she had been on her way to work in a pub in Temple Bar when she passed three males who engaged her in a brief conversation.
She claimed that two of them dragged her down the lane and raped her. She had left her shoes and leggings at the scene and alleged to gardaí that her underwear was taken by the perpetrator.
Following her claim, she was brought to a sexual assault treatment unit. It emerged two days later that the pub where she claimed to work did not exist. She brought gardaí to Temple Bar and pointed out a bar where she said she was employed but “the manager never heard of her”.
She had already given a “detailed description” of one of the perpetrators and a partial description of the second, which was passed on to Garda HQ where experts compiled a photo-fit. This was circulated to all garda stations.
Det Gda Keyes said a public appeal was made through the garda press office and this generated significant media coverage, in Ireland, the UK and also in Brazil.
After 12 days of investigation in which more than 140 lines of enquiry were conducted and various offices, including the forensic science laboratory, got involved, “she admitted to investigating gardaí that in fact she had lied”.
Though no one was arrested or charged, some men had been asked to account for their whereabouts, the court heard.
De Oliveira, who remained silent during the hearing, was apologetic, Det Gda Keyes also said.
The authorities are also planning to deport the student who came to Ireland in April, the court also heard. A representative from the Brazilian consulate and the student's mother were present for the case today.
Mr Spencer BL told the court that De Oliveira had been abused when she was 12 but never got proper medical assistance and her mother believed “that manifested itself in some form in this allegation.”
He said that within a short time, cracks started to emerge in her story.
Mr Spencer said “one lie led to another” and that when she told her friends she had been raped, “it snowballed out of control, she did not know how she could stop it.”
He argued that society would not gain from her being imprisoned and he asked the court to note her young age, and that she suffered a shock by spending five days in prison remand.
He argued that her description was so detailed, including claims the perpetrator had a scar on his hand, that “save for some unholy co-incidence it could not never have resulted in the prosecution of anyone for these offences.”
Judge Halpin said the young woman, who is from a rural area in Brazil, was immature and came from a good family but what she had done was “outrageously wicked”.
“False statements undermine investigative processes and judicial processes,” said the judge, adding that this was not a victimless crime. He said it was heinous offence, “which could put women off coming forward to report rapes or acts of violence for fear that they would not be believed”.
False rape claims also make it more difficult for real victims to be believed in court, he said.
However, he said that he did not believe a custodial sentence was appropriate.
He fined her and imposed the three-month sentence but suspended it on condition she does no re-offend in the next two years.