A MOTHER who sparked a major police hunt for a rapist has been jailed for making up the story.
Emma Goodwin, 25, a mother-of-one, told police last September that a man had dragged her into woods near Slant Gate, Linthwaite, and raped her.
The report led to senior police officers being called in to co-ordinate a search for the attacker, who was dubbed the Teatime Sex Beast.
But at Bradford Crown Court yesterday Goodwin was jailed for eight months.
Prosecutor Tahir Khan said up to 40 police officers were involved in the hunt.
It included house-to-house inquiries, sealing off the crime scene for forensic tests and a reconstruction aimed at finding possible witnesses along Goodwin's route home from work that teatime.
Goodwin, who had no previous convictions, even provided a description of her alleged attacker, which resulted in an e-fit picture being published in the media.
Mr Khan said that after the e-fit was published the police received an anonymous tip-off.
This led to a man spending a night in police custody before being bailed, pending further inquiries.
Mr Khan added: "During the week that followed inquiries to trace witnesses continued.
"The defendant provided a second statement in which she detailed her mobile phone usage, I think on September 8. Then on the ninth she admitted making the allegation up."
Goodwin, of School Houses, Salendine Nook, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to perverting the course of justice.
Sentence was adjourned for the preparation of a psychological report.
Her barrister, Jayne Beckett, said Goodwin had been starting a new job and her day had not gone particularly well. She added: "There had been this ongoing texting row with her boyfriend.
"She thought the relationship was over by the end of the day and she was desperate to cling on to it.
"Somehow, and it's still difficult to explain, it came to be translated into a text to him that she had been raped."
Goodwin's boyfriend told her to report the attack to the police. It was then that events snowballed.
"Things took on a momentum far beyond what she immediately anticipated," said Mrs Beckett.
She said Goodwin did not "go out and target someone to be the victim of her false complaint.
"What she did do was run the risk of this happening and, of course, the worst did happen and someone was arrested.
"She is dreadfully sorry for the innocent victim, but also in respect of the police, the money and the public time and expense.
"She is bitterly ashamed of what she's done and bitterly sorry."
Jailing Goodwin, Judge James Barry said she would get credit for having the courage to retract her statement and her remorse was genuine.
He said she had had a dreadful life, but he had to balance sympathy with his duty.
He added that the arrested man "must have thought the earth had opened and was going to swallow him up."
The judge said "draconian punishment" must follow such "sabotage of the criminal justice system".
A police spokesman
said: "Eight months in prison is a harsh lesson to learn by. I hope others will think twice before making false allegations."