A WOMAN who invented an allegation of attempted rape - leading police to arrest and detain a man for questioning - has been warned she could be jailed.

Tracy Kent claimed she had been attacked near Stockton's Wellington Square shopping centre by an assailant who punched her to the ground, tried to undo her belt and grabbed her t-shirt, ripping it.

Teesside Crown Court heard the 35-year-old even went as far as ripping her own clothes and presenting them to police in order to make her account more believable.

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Kent maintained her account despite knowing that a man had been arrested, and was spoken to by officers on at least seven occasions after reporting the 'crime' by dialling 999 on June 7 last year.

A week later after being challenged over inconsistencies with her version of events, she finally admitted she had made the whole thing up.

Kent said she concocted the story in order to get the sympathy of her husband - with whom she had rowed - and had become too afraid to tell the truth.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson said the costs of the investigation by Cleveland police amounted to £3,716.

Kent, of St John's Way, Stockton, who was of previous good character, admitted perverting the course of justice.

Graham Brown, mitigating, said Kent had not made the allegation against a specific individual in a targeted way.

He said Kent had been suffering from mental health issues and undergone treatment for depression.

Mr Brown also complained about the length of time it had taken to charge his client and said this formed part of his case.

He said: “It is not immediately apparent to me why it took eight months to charge her which only exacerbated the stress and pressure she has been under.”

Judge Howard Crowson told Kent he wanted her medical condition to be verified by a doctor and for this reason he was unable to sentence her.

The judge said he considered Kent's behaviour a jailing offence, but said more information might allow Mr Brown to argue for a reduction in the length of the sentence or for it to suspended.

Judge Crowson told the defendant he did not want to give her any false hopes that she might avoid jail by adjourning and renewed her bail until another court hearing on June 23.