Following a false rape accusation against him, Terry Harrison was remanded in custody and spent months trying to clear his name. Catherine Priestley reports.

TERRY HARRISON lost his home, had his freedom curtailed and rarely saw his two daughters while under police investigation.

The 34-year-old missed family birthdays and a funeral and turned to alcohol and sleeping pills because of the ordeal.

He said: “It was hell. I felt lower than low and at times I honestly felt like killing myself.

“Now it is over I need people to hear my side and accept I am innocent.”

After seeing his accuser jailed for perverting the course of justice last week, Mr Harrison said he is finally starting to rebuild his life.

Shirley Prince, a 42-yearold single mother from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, said she was raped by Mr Harrison during a house party in May last year.

She later admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for three months when she appeared at Durham Crown Court on Tuesday.

Mr Harrison, also from Newton Aycliffe, said: “I know people who have been devastated by rape. It is just one of the worst crimes I could imagine and something I would never do.”

While police investigated the complaint, Mr Harrison was required to live in a hostel in Middlesbrough for five months because the conditions of his bail prevented him from entering Newton Aycliffe.

He lost the tenancy on his rented home in Booth Walk, Newton Aycliffe, and says the burden of the case led him to breach his bail conditions.

He said: “I kept expecting it to be over, I thought she would tell the truth or police would drop it when they found no DNA, but it went on and on.

“I was going insane with the accusations going round my head, being away from my home town and friends and family.

“There was just me and four walls most of the time, I felt I was being punished for something I hadn’t done, so I admit I broke my bail conditions. I went out when I shouldn’t and came back to Aycliffe.

“I wanted people to listen and believe me and one night lost my temper and sent a text message saying I’d kill someone. I never meant it literally, but was prosecuted for witness intimidation.

“I was put in Holme House Prison (in Stockton) with paedophiles and rapists, even some of the prisoners there hated me because they knew I was accused of rape, which is just one step down from murder.”

Five months after the initial complaint, Mr Harrison was told the rape charge had been dropped.

He said: “It was hard to be elated.

“It took a few days to sink in and relax but I still had the witness intimidation case which stemmed from it.

“It is a full year later and finally it is over, she has been prosecuted and I was bound over to keep the peace for a year.

“I am slowly getting my confidence back and starting to hold my head up again. I am rebuilding relationships with my oldest daughter and girlfriend and hope to get my life back to where it was before this.”

Detective Superintendent Andy Reddick, of Durham Police, said: “We investigate thoroughly any rape allegation and have the highest detection rate in the country.

“Occasionally false allegations are made, not always maliciously, but for all sorts of reasons.

“We think lots of rapes on women and men go unreported, so have to reassure victims if they come to us they will be treated sensitively. I am satisfied that we will investigate fully to get to the truth.”

Mr Harrison said: “What I went through was dreadful. I cannot believe how long the lies went on.

“But I also know that crying rape can also harm genuine victims who are scared of not being believed.