A FORMER prison officer is now behind bars herself after making a false rape allegation against a taxi driver.

Victoria Hoynes’ claim not only cast suspicion over two Asian taxi drivers, one being arrested, but also wasted many police man-hours while her allegation was investigated over a busy Bank Holiday weekend.

It was only when dash-cam footage was reviewed from the cab of one of the drivers, who had driven her that night, that it became clear her story was unfounded and Hoynes was then spoken to, not as a potential victim, but as a suspect.

Durham Crown Court, sitting in Newcastle, said police received a call at 3.49am, on May 26, last year, from Hoynes’ mother, who told them her daughter returned home from a night out in a distressed state, saying she had been raped by an Asian taxi driver outside Lanchester Road Hospital, on the A691, near Durham.

Hoynes said she took a taxi from the Market Place, in Durham, and claimed the driver, who was Asian and in his 40s, stopped near the hospital and carried out the attack on the front passenger seat, before pushing her out, into the grounds of the hospital.

She said she contacted a friend who picked her up, noticing Hoynes had twigs in her hair and scratches on the back of her clothing.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said in her initial interview she changed her description of the driver to being in his 20s, with spiked, gelled hair.

Extensive inquiries took place and a driver on duty that night was arrested and denied the offence, stating he had taken a fare to Crook at about that time.

Mr Dodds said that man was discounted as a suspect, but the focus turned to a second driver, who, it emerged, had driven Hoynes, dropping her at the hospital on Lanchester Road.

He said he drove straight home afterwards and footage from his dash-cam, inside the cab, was accessed, which showed Hoynes got out unaided and there was no contact between the pair.

Mr Dodds said it was then Hoynes’ investigation status changed and when interviewed she maintained her original story, stating she would not risk her job at Frankland Prison, where she regularly works with sex offenders, and her “lifestyle” over this incident.

Investigating officers believed it was only when the dash-cam footage was shown to her that she changed her account.

Both suspected drivers spoke of the effect it had on their livelihood and family life, while the lead investigator said Hoynes’ actions may deter future rape victims from reporting crimes.

Hoynes, 27, of Durham Gardens, Witton Gilbert, admitted doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

Adam Birkby, for Hoynes, said she now accepts full responsibility and wants to make “sincere apologies” to both implicated drivers and to the police for wasting officers' time.

Mr Birkby pointed to a psychiatric report which stated that her false allegations may have been an "unconscious management" of a depressive illness from which she suffered since a relationship break-up, in 2018.

“Ultimately, it’s been a tragedy for all concerned, particularly the two men,” added Mr Birkby.

Jailing her for 20-months, Judge James Adkin said much effort went in to proving her “wicked complaint” was, “ a complete fabrication”, impacting heavily on both men suspected and on policing resources.