Woman facing jail after making false taxi rape claim

Laura Hood
Laura Hood
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A woman who falsely claimed she was raped in the back of a taxi is facing jail after she was convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Laura Hood, 27, maintained for nearly two-and-a-half years she had been attacked by a taxi driver before she finally accepted at her trial last week that it could not have happened.

But she continued to deny the allegation against her and said she was innocent because she had not knowingly lied, and instead had a false belief of "something so clear in my head".

However, a consultant forensic psychiatrist saw Hood, of Stockport, as part of the case, and concluded there was no medical or psychiatric explanation for her belief.

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On Wednesday, a jury at Manchester Minshull Street Crown found Hood guilty by a 10-2 majority verdict after deliberating for more than six hours.

Shortly after being dropped off home following a night out, Hood hysterically told her mother she had been sexually assaulted and then informed police she was attacked in the back of a black cab in a side-street.

Her version of events was exposed though when a tracker device fitted to the cab showed the vehicle made no detours apart from when Hood jumped out briefly to use a cash machine.

Prosecutor Geoff Whelan said the driver, Haroon Yousaf, could have found himself on trial for rape without the tracker data from the early hours of January 8 2017.

Mr Yousaf was kept in custody for 20 hours after he was arrested at a taxi rank on the evening of January 8, while a second man was also arrested as he drove a taxi with a similar registration number and spent some 14 hours in custody.

Both suspects provided intimate samples as part of the investigation before they were later told no further action would be taken, jurors were told.

In a witness statement read to the court, Mr Yousaf said: "It still affects me in my day-to-day life. I don't know if I will ever come back fully from this. Before this incident I was a strong person. However I'm now negative and worry that things can go wrong.

"This is the most disgusting thing that anyone can be accused of.

"When I pick up single female passengers I always worry that something could happen again."

The married father said he had "tears in my eyes" when he had to take his clothes off in front of a stranger and provide a sample in custody.

He added: "I don't think this female really understands what she has done and how it has affected my life."

The court heard how Hood maintained she had been raped despite being confronted with the vehicle tracker data.

She also kept to her story when it was revealed Mr Yousaf was aged 29 at the time - and not in his 50s as she had described - and he had a full beard when she said her attacker had no facial hair.

No forensic evidence gathered showed any physical contact between Mr Yousaf and the defendant.

Giving evidence, Hood said life was "absolutely fine" before she made the complaint, having started a new relationship and a new job in human resources for a legal company.

She described how she got into a "real state" after losing her phone on a night out with friends in Manchester city centre and decided to get a taxi home alone.

She tearfully recalled how she went on to be examined by a doctor at a sexual assault referral centre, which she described as "awful".

Hood said she had "absolutely no idea" how male DNA found on her underwear was not conclusively connected to any named person in the court case.

Accepting there was no explanation for her belief, she said: "I wish I knew. I wish I could explain why something so clear in my head ... obviously it can't be true."

The Crown said Hood had stuck with her lies for so long and events had "snowballed".

Hood leaned forward in the dock and held her head in her hands following the verdict as a number of jurors appeared tearful.

Thanking the jury, Judge Julie Warburton said: "It is quite apparent to me that it has not been easy for any of you."

Hood, of Onslow Road, was bailed until August 1 for a pre-sentence report and cried as she exited the courtroom.

Before she left the judge told her: "Adjourning the case for a report should not be taken as any indication that there will be not be a custodial sentence in this case. It is a very serious matter."

Detective Constable Laura Hughes, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Hood put a completely innocent man through a dreadful ordeal.

"She showed a complete lack of regard for how her false accusation would affect him and remained emotionless when police confronted her with irrefutable evidence that she was making the whole thing up.

"She has wasted the time of specialist police officers and detectives who could have been dedicating their efforts to solving real crimes and supporting real victims.

"Rape and sexual offences are among the most intrusive and life-changing crimes to become a victim of. Clearly, Hood thought that they could be treated as something trivial and made a false report on whim.

"The real victim here was the taxi driver and I hope he finds some closure with today's verdict."