'Fake rape' woman Layla Ibrahim fights to clear name

Layla Ibrahim Image copyright Layla Ibrahim

A woman sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of faking her own rape says she is now fighting to clear her name.

Layla Ibrahim, from Carlisle, was convicted of perverting the course of justice in 2010 and served 18 months of her sentence, giving birth in prison.

But she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme she "finally" had enough new information to prove her innocence.

The Crown Prosecution Service said prosecutions for such cases were rare.

Ibrahim has now asked the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the statutory body responsible for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice, to review her case.

According to her legal team, her bloodstained ring was not tested for DNA during the original police investigation, and neither were her shoes and leggings.

Also, a witness told the police at the time they had seen "intimidating" men in the area, but that was not followed up, nor entered into evidence in the original trial.

She arrived at her sister's house in Carlisle in the early hours of 4 January 2009, claiming she had been attacked while returning from a night out with friends.

Her dress, bra and leggings were damaged.

She had received a blow to her head, had scratches and bruising to her knees, breasts and face, and was bleeding from the vagina.

DNA testing

She told police she had lost consciousness after being attacked by two men, but was unsure if she had been sexually assaulted.

"I want my name cleared," she says. "I've always fought for this - I've not just spent eight years sitting around, I've tried and always wanted to do it.

"At the very beginning the police believed me, but within three or four days it was becoming evident they didn't."

Ibrahim told officers she had defended herself against the men with a pair of scissors from her handbag, but that one of them had taken the scissors and cut her hair.

She was taken for a forensic examination, in which a blond pubic hair was discovered, but, her lawyers say, this evidence was destroyed in a laboratory during DNA testing.

"I'm talking because I've finally got enough evidence to take it to court," she says.

Image copyright Layla Ibrahim
Image caption Layla Ibrahim is now married and has three children

But prosecutors suggested Ibrahim may have faked the attack in order to gain sympathy and to get back at a friend who had refused to help her get a cab that night and her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had recently argued.

Police brought up inconsistencies in her evidence, and the prosecution said lumps of her hair had been found too far away from where she had claimed to have been attacked, suggesting she had cut her own hair and dress.

"Of course there are people who don't believe me, and it's something that I'm strong enough now to take," she says.

"I would like to see someone jailed for what they did to me, for the eight years they had of my life. The main priority, though, is to have my name cleared.

"I suffer with anxiety often and can't leave my house much, which is hard.

"I get night terrors, which are flashbacks - sometimes waking up feeling like I'm still there at the attack, and other times I wake up terrified."

'Sensitive handling'

When sentencing her in 2010, Judge Paul Batty QC said her behaviour throughout the proceedings had been "irresponsible in the extreme and many would say wicked".

He told her he was "entirely clear in this case that you craved attention".

"You wanted your friends to think they had left you in the position where they thought you were the subject of a serious sexual attack. You wanted to teach them a lesson," he said.

Ibrahim did not appeal while in prison, claiming her barrister told her not to because there was no new evidence. She became a mother for the first time soon after she was jailed, when her daughter was born in August 2010.

A spokesman for Cumbria police said: "The case was investigated at the time and Layla Ibrahim was convicted at crown court.

"Pending a potential review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

A CPS spokesman said: "Prosecutions for these offences are rare and by their very nature will be complex and require sensitive handling.

"Any case brought before the courts must have met the strict test that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

"For this offence, the evidence must show that a clear complaint was made and we can prove that complaint was false."

The Victoria Derbyshire programme is broadcast on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.

More on this story