A TEENAGE girl sparked a police manhunt for a rapist after she claimed she had been attacked in her own home, a court heard yesterday.
But the 14-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, later confessed to making up the rape allegation in which she claimed to have been held down, had a pillow put over her face and been stripped.
In fact the teenager had willingly started a relationship with 28-year-old Michael Brennan.
Bradford Crown Court was told that after his arrest he had the rape allegation hanging over him for three months.
Although the girl made a statement in July about the true relationship between them, Brennan's barrister Andrew Hatton revealed that his client was only told at the beginning of November that he would not be prosecuted for rape.
Mr Hatton said it was wholly improper that Brennan had lived with the fear of being prosecuted for rape for three months.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said he was "horrified" that such a serious allegation had been hanging over Brennan's head for that period of time.
Brennan, who admitted two offences of sexual touching involving a child under 16, was yesterday sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for two years, and made the subject of a three-month curfew order.
He will also have to register as a sex offender with the police for the next five years.
Prosecutor Gavin Howie told the court that after the girl's initial rape allegation police began a manhunt for her attacker, but in her later statement she said she only made the complaint because her father had disturbed her and Brennan.
"Subsequently she gave a statement to the police, which she described as the truth, in which she puts a different gloss entirely on the relationship between her and Mr Brennan," said Mr Howie.
The court heard that the girl sent texts of a sexual nature to Brennan, who believed she was aged 15, nearly 16.
Brennan, now 29, of Whinney Hill Park, Brighouse, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to the two offences of sexual touching and Mr Hatton said it was clear that the girl was infatuated with his client.
"He's made a mistake," said Mr Hatton.
"It's one he is unlikely to repeat."
Judge Durham Hall told Brennan that the age difference between him and the complainant was marked and it was not appropriate in this society for men of 28 to have sexual relations with a girl of 14 or 15 however desirable it is thought by both parties.
"The reason for that is that society does have a role of protecting people sometimes from themselves," he added.
"You are not a sexual predator. You are not a danger to women. You were not forcing yourself (on her) you were responding to a situation that was very much two-sided, but you should have said no.
"The court can achieve justice, and not attract too much criticism of both itself and you, by saying it is not necessary for you to go to prison immediately.
"If you were to do anything as stupid as this again you will be arrested and you will go to prison for starters for nine months."