British teenager was suffering from PTSD when she withdrew Cyprus gang rape claim, court hears

A British teenager accused of lying about being gang raped in Cyprus may have retracted her claims because she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, her lawyer said at a hearing on Friday.

The woman, 19, is charged with public mischief for allegedly inventing the attack at an Ayia Napa hotel on July 17.

She maintains she was raped by up to a dozen Israeli tourists, but pressured by Cypriot police to make a retraction statement 10 days later. Prosecutors say the teenager willingly wrote and signed the document.

On Friday, chartered consultant psychologist Dr Christine Tizzard gave evidence by videolink from Portsmouth Crown Court.

Speaking after the hearing in Larnaca, lawyer Michael Polak, director of the group Justice Abroad – which is assisting the teenager – said she was diagnosed as having underlying PTSD, which was reignited by the alleged attack.

Lawyer Michael Polak of Justice Abroad is supporting the teengaerCredit:
KATIA CHRISTODOULOU/EPA-EFE/REX

"We were pleased with the evidence from Dr Tizzard, which confirms what we have been saying," he said.

"She explained in simple words to the court the ways in which PTSD affects someone who is put in a difficult situation… Their fight or flight reflex would kick in and they would do anything to get out of that situation…

"We look forward to the rest of the evidence, which we say supports the teenager’s case that she was put under enormous pressure to sign the retraction statement."

The case was adjourned following the psychologist’s evidence and a date for forensic linguist Dr Andrea Nini to give evidence is expected to be set on Monday.

He is expected to say it was "highly unlikely" that the retraction statement was written by a native English speaker, supporting the teenager’s case that it was dictated to her by a Cypriot police officer.

The incident allegedly took place in the resort town of Ayia NapaCredit:
Amir MAKAR / AFP

Her lawyers want Judge Michalis Papathanasiou to rule the statement is inadmissible as evidence.

The teenager was a week into a working holiday before she was due to start university when she alleged she was raped by the group of young Israeli men, but was then herself accused of making it up.

She spent more than a month in prison before she was granted bail at the end of August, but cannot leave the island, having surrendered her passport.

She could face up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine if she is found guilty.

The 12 Israelis arrested over the alleged attack returned home after they were released.

The teenager’s family have set up a crowdfunding page asking for money for legal costs, which has raised more than £40,000.

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