MORE than 200 hours of police time were wasted by a woman who made a false allegation of kidnap and rape.

Marissa Louise Cheeseman, 37, of Maidstone Road in Chatham, Kent, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £20 after falsely claiming she had been abducted and raped by two men in Whitby.

Cheeseman was visiting the Whitby Folk Festival in August 2017 when she claimed she was asked for directions by a man driving a van.

She said the man then forced her into the back of the vehicle and driven to Middlesbrough, where she claimed she was left after being repeatedly raped by both men.

Scarborough Serious Crime Team and Cleveland Major Incident Team immediately launched an investigation into the claims, with 25 officers from different departments working on the case.

Some officers were even called in on their rest days to investigate the allegations.

After four days of enquiries and more than 208 hours of police time, officers were satisfied the claims were untrue.

Cheeseman was arrested and pleaded guilty to wasting police time at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court.

She was given a sentence of a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £20.

Detective Inspector Glenn Kelly of Scarborough Serious Crime Team, said: “The time and resources dedicated to this extremely serious allegation reflected the gravitas with which we regard all such reports.

"It is very frustrating for everyone involved in such an intensive investigation to find that the report was made up.

"Particularly when there are genuine victims of crime who need our help.

“Proceeding with such prosecutions is not taken lightly and only when it is in the public interest to do so will it be considered. In this instance, there was a considerable diversion of policing resources and cost to the public purse, which had this been a genuine report, would have been the absolute right thing to do, but it was not genuine.

“We may never know what motivated Cheeseman to make such claims, but what is of concern is that false reports undermine genuine victims of serious sexual crime.

“It is vital that victims are not affected by false reporting and that they are reassured that when they do report such horrendous crimes to the police, they will be treated as an absolute priority, with urgency, sensitivity and confidentiality.”

If you have been a victim of sexual crime, no matter when it happened, please report it to the police on 101.

If you prefer not to speak to police, call Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0330 223 0362.