Trainee barrister cried rape 11 TIMES landing her boyfriend behind bars for 30 days in bid to get out of taking law exams, court hears

3 April 2014

A trainee barrister falsely accused her boyfriend of raping her 11 times in an attempt to get out of taking her law exams, a court heard.

Rhiannon Brooker, 30, alleged Paul Fensome had repeatedly assaulted her, leading to the 46-year-old being arrested, charged and held in custody for 30 days.

But detectives could not find any evidence he had carried out the attacks. It emerged that Brooker had used the allegations as ‘extenuating circumstances’ in a failed attempt to dodge her bar exams, a jury was told.

She is accused of making 11 false claims of rape and nine of assault, two of which alleged false imprisonment.

Prosecutor David Bartlett told Bristol Crown Court: ‘One of the reasons for her false allegations was that she was living an active social life and not doing the work required to pass.’

She made up the claims to ‘give substance’ to her bid to be allowed to delay her exams.

The court heard how Brooker, a law graduate, had been studying for her barrister qualifications at the University of the West of England (UWE).

Shortly before she moved to Bristol in 2010, she appeared at a shop where she worked with injuries and complained her boyfriend had assaulted her, Mr Bartlett said.

At UWE she told fellow students she had been assaulted and raped, and occasionally displayed physical injuries, but had not reported the matter to police.

She claimed Mr Fensome had forced her to have sex on several occasions and once she told a friend she had lost a baby because he had punched her in the ribs.

She said facial injuries and bruising were as a result of her attempts to end the relationship against his will.

In March 2011 a domestic violence adviser encouraged her to keep a log of incidents and report them to police.

She finally went to police in May 2011 but all the allegations were denied by Mr Fensome, a railway signalman.

She told officers she had been grabbed by the throat and held against a wall after Mr Fensome accused her of cheating on him.

The court saw a video of a police interview in which she said: ‘He got increasingly irritated and angry because of the fact I was denying it.

‘He was accusing me of all sorts with all people.

‘As we got home he tripped me up as we were coming through the door and I fell down.

‘I said to stop being so stupid, then he grabbed me by the throat and put me against the wall.

‘He put his hand around my neck and throat, his grip was tight, I found it hard to breathe. He said I was malicious and nasty.’

However, Mr Fensome denied the allegations and had ‘cast iron alibis’, the court heard.

Texts from his phone and his work shift patterns either undermined or disproved the claims. Experts suggested Brooker’s injuries had been self-inflicted, Mr Bartlett said.

After charges against Mr Fensome were dropped, Brooker, of Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire, confirmed they were false, and admitted that injuries seen by witnesses, including her friends and doctors, were self-inflicted, the court heard.

She later told police: ‘The allegations were not true and I am sorry I made them. I find it very difficult to understand why I said these things.

‘I believe that in some funny way I have hit out against Paul as he was close to me – the nearest target of those unresolved feelings of anger – and I regret the hurt that I’ve caused him as a result.

‘I am trying to work hard with these feelings and I understand that they have to be resolved and put behind me.

‘Ordinarily I am a truthful and honest person which makes it all the more difficult for me to understand how this has happened.’

Brooker sat only the first four of her 12 assessments for her course and persuaded the Extenuating Circumstances Committee to let her sit the rest later. But she went on to fail because she exceeded the time limit.

Mr Bartlett said Brooker’s knowledge of criminal law was likely to be greater than that of most rape complainants.

‘The prosecution alleges that she knew that the course of justice was being perverted and intended to pervert the course of justice throughout that period.

‘Brooker seemed oblivious to the impact of the false allegations on Mr Fensome’s family, causing distress, disruption and expense.

‘In addition, Brooker deceived other students and her tutors, who committed time and emotional support to her cause.

‘We suggest that the defendant has an inherent tendency to fabricate allegations and needs always to be the centre of attention.’

Brooker denies perverting the course of justice. The trial continues.