James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
British teenager found guilty of lying about Cyprus gang rape heads home to UK
7 January 2020, 20:29
A British teenager found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus is on her way back to the UK.
The 19-year-old woman hugged her family and legal team and left court weeping, with her head in her hands, after she was sentenced for public mischief.
Her mother shouted "she's coming home" to supporters outside Famagusta District Court, telling reporters she feels "relieved".
Addressing the crowd, the teenager's mother said: "I just want to thank each and every one of you for turning up today, having belief, having faith and making sure we get justice."
She was later pictured arriving arm-in-arm with her daughter at Larnaca airport on Tuesday afternoon to fly back to the UK.
The young woman's four-month jail sentence has been suspended for three years, and she has been ordered to pay €148 (£125) in legal fees.
Around 100 protesters gathered outside the court, including a group of about 60 from Israel.
Holding placards reading "we believe you" and "don't be afraid", they chanted: "Cyprus justice, shame on you"; "Stop blaming the victim", and: "You are not alone".
Their voices could be heard inside court as the judge passed sentence, even after security guards had asked for the windows and blinds to be closed.
Lewis Power QC, the teenager's lawyer, said her legal team would be challenging her conviction and were prepared if necessary, "fight this case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights".
He said the teenager had been "stripped both of her dignity and her basic human rights", had been "diagnosed with severe PTSD" and suffered a "deterioration of her mental health".
The young woman, from Derbyshire, was kept on the island for almost five months after claiming she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.
She was charged and spent about a month in prison before being granted bail in August.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over her treatment with the Cypriot authorities, after the teenager's conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.
After the sentence, he said: "We will be following up on some of the issues in relation to the case. I spoke to the Cypriot foreign minister about that.
"There is a broader issue for Brits travelling abroad - not just in Cyprus, or indeed in Europe - whether it is holiday, whether it is backpacking, to make sure they can do so as safely and securely as possible."
Yesterday protesters called for a "boycott" of Cyprus outside the country's High Commission in London as part of a march calling for justice for a 19-year old British woman.