A STUDENT from York whose false rape claim led to an innocent man being arrested and held for nine hours walked free from court yesterday.

Hannah Byron, 20, was told by a judge at Teesside Crown Court that she had avoided prison “by a short whisker”.

Byron claimed she had been raped after she had been seen flirting outside The Keys in Yarm during a night out in March last year.

She said the man had attacked her on a bridge, thrown money at her to get a taxi home and gave police a description of him.

A suspect was detained and interrogated but provided police with evidence to show he had not raped the psychology student.

The court heard that Byron, then studying at the University of Teesside, was trying to win back a former boyfriend with the claim.

Her barrister, Brian Russell, described it as “very foolish behaviour” and urged the judge to depart from the usual punishment of prison.

After the case, PC James Emery, of Cleveland Police, said the innocent victim of the defendant’s claims had been put through an enormous amount of stress through being arrested and questioned over false claims, and said: “That victim is relieved that these matters are now at an end.”

He added: “Such allegations are a drain on police resources and put further unnecessary pressures on the police’s ability to respond to the community’s needs.

“Not only this, there is a further concern that genuine victims of sexual assaults might be put off from approaching the police.”

Mr Russell said once Byron had told her ex-boyfriend of the alleged attack, it snowballed and she could not back out of it.

Byron, of Eldon Street, York, admitted doing an act tending or intended to pervert the course of justice when she was about to go on trial in March.

Judge George Moorhouse told her yesterday: “People who make false complaints do so at their peril.”

He accepted Byron was seeking attention to make her former boyfriend jealous and said she showed genuine remorse. She was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with supervision and 150 hours of unpaid community work.