UK

CPS 'right' to pursue De Freitas case after rape allegation

Eleanor De Freitas Image copyright Family
Image caption Three days before Ms De Freitas was due to stand trial in April, she took her own life

Prosecutors have defended pursuing a woman who killed herself days before appearing in court accused of making a false rape allegation.

Eleanor De Freitas, who died in April aged 23, had bipolar disorder and left notes saying she was scared of court.

Director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders, who reviewed the prosecution, said it had been in the public interest and correctly handled.

Ms De Freitas' father had blamed the CPS for his daughter's death.

Head of the Crown Prosecution Service Ms Saunders said she had met with David De Freitas in "one of the most complex" cases she had seen.

"Having considered the detail and the issues raised by the family, I am satisfied that the decision making in this case was correct and that it was made in accordance with our policies and guidance," Ms Saunders said.

An inquest into Ms De Freitas' death was opened and adjourned in November.

She told the Metropolitan Police she had been raped in early 2013.

But, after police said there was insufficient evidence to pursue her allegation, the man she had accused took out a private prosecution against her for allegedly perverting the course of justice.

Ms De Freitas' solicitors asked the Crown Prosecution Service to halt the private action but instead prosecutors decided to take it over and continue it.

Three days before Ms De Freitas was due to stand trial in April, she took her own life.

She had suffered a mental breakdown during her first year at Durham University and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder for which she received medical treatment.

'Contradictory evidence'

The inquest into her death was halted while Ms Saunders carried out a review of the case, demanding a "full explanation" from the prosecutors who brought the case.

In her statement, Ms Saunders defended their decision, saying that there had been "strong" evidence against Ms De Freitas.

"This was evidence including text messages and CCTV footage that directly contradicted the account Ms De Freitas gave to the police," she added.

"It was on this basis that we concluded that there was a realistic prospect of proving that the rape allegation made by Ms De Freitas was false, and there was also a strong public interest in prosecuting due to the seriousness of the alleged offence which was maintained by the defendant for some time and which led to the arrest of an individual."

She pointed out that CPS guidance stated that it should take over private prosecutions for serious offences, and said it would have been inappropriate not to have taken the case on.

More on this story