British teenager found guilty of lying about Cyprus gang rape will not go to prison

The mother of a British teenager who has avoided jail after being found guilty of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has said her daughter is “coming home”.

The 19-year-old woman, who has not been named, was handed a four-month prison sentence suspended for three years.

She is expected to return to the UK following the outcome at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni on Tuesday.

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One of the accused Israelis was semi-professional footballer Shimon Yusufov, 19, who the woman had been in a consensual relationship with at the time of the alleged incident.

His lawyer Nir Yaslovitzh told MailOnline after the sentencing: “He takes the opinion that justice has been done. She was found guilty by the court of lying and I hope with this sentence she has learned her lesson. We respect the decision of the court and of course she was found guilty.’ 

A British teenager covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in Cyprus for sentencing (AFP/Getty)
A British teenager covers her face as she arrives at the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in Cyprus for sentencing (AFP/Getty)

She hugged her family and her legal team and left court weeping, with her head in her hands.

The teenager's mother shouted "she's coming home" to supporters outside court, adding she feels "relieved".

There was criticism of prime minister Boris Johnson following the sentencing. The teenager had earlier appealed to Mr Johnson to “please bring me home”.

Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy tweeted: "The message this case sends to victims is that they will become the accused if they report rape. Boris Johnson should have intervened without hesitation."

Her family had raised fears she would suffer permanent damage to her mental health if she was sent to prison, having been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Activists show their support for the British teenager outside the court (Reuters)
Activists show their support for the British teenager outside the court (Reuters)

But she is free to return home after Judge Michalis Papathanasiou told her he was giving her a "second chance".

The teenager's mother said: "On behalf of the family, I would like to say we are very relieved at the sentence that has been passed down today.

"I would also like to say thank you for all the support we have received throughout the globe."

Addressing applauding supporters, she added: "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."

The teenager, who is appealing her conviction, claimed she was raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in a hotel room in the party town of Ayia Napa on July 17.

Her lawyers asked the judge to consider a suspended prison sentence after she was convicted of public mischief last week.

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Local media had reported she would have been pardoned by Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades if the judge had imposed an immediate jail term.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the court before the sentencing. They included a group of women who have travelled from Israel.

They chanted "Cyprus justice, shame on you", "stop blaming the victim" and "you are not alone". Some held placards reading "we believe you" and "don't be afraid".

The teenager was charged, while the young men, aged between 15 and 20, who were arrested over the incident, were freed after she signed a retraction statement 10 days later.

Activists protest outside the Famagusta District Court in support of the British teenager (AFP/Getty)
Activists protest outside the Famagusta District Court in support of the British teenager (AFP/Getty)

She claimed police made her sign a confession.

The woman spent around a month in prison before being granted bail in August.

She maintains she was raped after having consensual sex with one of the Israelis but forced to change her account under pressure from Cypriot police.

The case hinged on a retraction statement signed by the teenager following hours of questioning alone and without legal representation.

One of the Israeli tourists has vowed to sue her, it was reported.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said he has raised concerns over the treatment of the teenager with the Cypriot authorities after her conviction provoked outrage in Cyprus and the UK.

Sentencing the teenager, the judge said: "I admit, I have been troubled over this. All the evidence shows that she had lied and prevented the police from doing other serious jobs.

"Twelve people were arrested and seven of them were there for at least 10 days. That was also a serious offence.

The British teenager pictured at a previous hearing (Getty)
The British teenager pictured at a previous hearing (Getty)

"Her psychological state, her youth, that she has been away from her family, her friends and academic studies this year.

"This has led me to decide to give her a second chance and suspend the sentence for three years."

The teenager’s English lawyer, Lewis Power QC, said she will be returning home on Tuesday.

He said: "Whilst we welcome the fact that the sentence imposed today allows her to go home, we strongly contest the conviction and the fight for her innocence will go on regardless.

"We will be appealing the conviction and will take this case to the Supreme Court of Human Rights.

"We say and will maintain that this young girl was stripped both of her dignity and her basic human rights.

"She has been diagnosed with severe PTSD and this case has resulted in the deterioration of her mental health."

Mr Power added: "She is adamant of her innocence and that she has told the truth."

London’s victims commissioner Claire Waxman tweeted that she is writing to the foreign secretary to ask the British government to “investigate failings in this case as rape allegations must be taken seriously”.

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