A MAN has spoken of the pain and humiliation after being falsely accused of rape by his estranged wife.

Anthony Scoones was arrested at his home and spent 16 hours in a police cell when his former partner – out to discredit him after their “acrimonious separation” – told detectives he had sexually assaulted her.

Last night, after Gemma Louise Scoones was jailed for 12 months for what a judge called “sheer wickedness”, Mr Scoones spoke of his nightmare ordeal. The 27-year-old was watching television in bed when police banged on the door of his home in Langdale Place, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

He was taken to Spennymoor police station where he says that, in a day of questioning, he lost his pride, confidence and trust in people.

Mr Scoones handed over his clothes for forensic examination, had to wear a paper suit, and a doctor took body swabs as evidence.

“I wasn’t just stripped of my clothes, but my dignity,” he said last night.

“I was stood there naked, with two police officers at one side of me and a doctor at the other side having swabs taken from all over my body.

“It was humiliating and degrading.

“I don’t blame the officers for investigating, but it is a heinous crime to be accused of and I’m still having nightmares now.”

Durham Crown Court heard it was only when discrepancies arose in a police interview with the then alleged rape victim that the truth emerged.

She was arrested and admitted the claim was untrue.

Mr Scoones was then released and told no further action would be taken.

His 26-year-old accuser, of Kirkstone Place, Newton Aycliffe, admitted an act intending to pervert the course of justice and was jailed for 12 months.

Stephanie Donington, prosecuting, said Scoones made the allegation in a phone call to police on January 10.

She told officers her estranged husband followed her back from a shop, forced his way into the house and raped her in a downstairs toilet. She claimed she was injured in the ordeal.

Asked why she had not reported it earlier, she claimed he had threatened to petrol bomb the house.

Miss Donington said that when the true story emerged, Scoones admitted planning to make up the story as a result of claims made in a letter from her estranged husband’s solicitor.

“She felt they were lies and believed she could get back at him if she made up a big enough lie,” said Miss Donington.

When told it led to him being held in custody, she replied: “It’s not enough.”

Scott Smith, mitigating, said Scoones’ actions arose from an acrimonious separation after a nine-year relationship.

Mr Smith said: “She was upset and this built up in her as time went on. She accepts there was a degree of planning and she considered her actions for several weeks.”

Jailing her, Recorder Neil Davey told Scoones: “In my judgement, the course you embarked on was one of sheer wickedness.

“You decided to take revenge on your ex-husband, by falsely accusing an entirely innocent man of rape, giving a lurid account of how it was inflicted.

“He was strip-searched, intimate samples were taken and he was humiliated, held in custody for more than 16 hours, and still you persisted in your claims.

“It was only the skill and expertise of the police that forced you to break down your story and prove your allegations were false.” Mr Scoones said that although his parents and girlfriend have stood by him, some friends had doubted his innocence.

He said: “Throughout the time Gemma and I were together, my family took her under their wing and supported her, but she would regularly take off and tell lies about me.

“My friends and family always believed me. But when the word rape is used, it changes the atmosphere. People did question me and this has opened my eyes up to who I can trust.

“Right up until she admitted her guilt in court and justice was done by sending her to prison, she was muddying the water and I’ve been worried about how people look at me.

“She’s taken away my trust, self-esteem, pride and confidence with one attentionseeking, spiteful lie.”

PC Elizabeth Graham, of Durham Police’s domestic abuse investigation team, said the force was very victimfocused and that the allegation of rape had been taken seriously and fully investigated.

It was only when the truth emerged that Scoones stopped being treated as the victim.

PC Graham said: “This was a calculated and malicious allegation made by a frustrated ex-partner who had an aim of discrediting her former husband and subjecting him to the indignity of a police investigation into an allegation of rape.

“The sentence imposed reflects the gravity of the offence committed and takes into account the trauma the true victim of this incident experienced, as well as the significant waste of police time and money spent investigating a crime that never occurred.”

PC Graham said she hoped the incident would not deter genuine victims of rape and sexual assault from reporting crimes to the police.