A British woman who sparked a huge police operation with lies about an attempted abduction will likely avoid a conviction.
The 25-year-old woman, who has interim name suppression, told her boyfriend that a man in a van had tried to grab her off the street.
When the boyfriend called police, she lied to officers as well.
That prompted a full scale response from Queenstown Police, with officers scouring CCTV and appealing for witnesses and information.
But the next day, the woman admitted she’d made the whole thing up. She was charged with making a false statement.
At Queenstown District Court on Monday, defence lawyer Sonia Vidal successfully applied for a discharge without conviction.
That’s conditional on the woman making a $400 donation to charity Jigsaw within two weeks.
Vidal argued that a conviction for dishonesty would have a serious impact on the woman’s future employment opportunities in her chosen field, for which she’s completed tertiary education.
At an earlier court date, Vidal said the woman had been diagnosed with severe clinical depression.
Judge Christina Cook says a conviction would have consequences out of proportion with the gravity of the offending.
“I am satisfied there are definitely consequences for your future employment,” Cook says.
“I have weighed that up against the nature of the offending and while a considerable amount of police resources were put into the operation I take into account this offending is somewhat unusual in the genesis of how it occurred.”
Cook says she accepts the woman has shown “genuine remorse” and is “embarrassed” and “stressed” about what had happened, and that it was her partner, not her, who had called police.
The woman claimed a man in a green van had grabbed her arm after asking for directions, as she walked home along on Robins Rd on November 12.
When she was convicted back in December, prosecuting sergeant Ian Collin said she was “just after some attention and didn’t realise it would get out of control.”