A BASINGSTOKE woman who falsely accused her teenage boyfriend of rape after lying to him that he was the father of her child has been jailed.

Sarah Dowson, of Hutchins Way, persuaded the 18-year-old man that he was the father of their child - and was only caught out when police spent £100,000 investigating her fraud and unearthed false baby scans she had bought on eBay.

The court heard Sarah then falsely accused the boy of rape after he tried to end their passionate affair, which started after they met working the same Chinese restaurant.

Jailing the 32-year-old mother, a judge told her: "This was a mendacious course perpetrated against a young man 10 years your junior, who did not want to continue to have a sexual relationship with you. Your conduct was deliberate and vengeful, designed to cause trouble for your victim."

Dowson and her husband Thomas, a 32-year-old delivery driver for the same restaurant, appeared for sentencing by Judge Angela Morris at Reading Crown Court. She admitted three counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud, while Thomas Dowson, who admitted one count of perverting the course of justice, received a suspended sentence for nine months, suspended for 18 months.

The court heard that when the teenager told Dowson that he wanted to end their affair, she told him she had become pregnant and started bombarding his mother with requests for child maintenance payments, after brandishing the baby scan photos.

When the teenager's family went to the police to complain about harassment, Dowson lodged a malicious allegation that her victim had raped her and then further lied about him showing up at her home and sending her malicious messages, lies which were backed up by her cuckolded husband, who believed the rape claim.

Judge Morris heard that the lies by Dowson, a mother-of-three, started to unravel when police found the results of a DNA test, which she had hidden from the teenager and his family and which proved it was her husband who was the father all along.

The worried teenager had to wrongly tell his parents he had fathered a child, leading to a three-and-a-half year period where his family looked after the baby boy as if he were their own, the court heard.

Judge Morris said: "It is difficult to find a comparable case of such deliberate acts of deceit against one person.

"Had either of those allegations been accepted as true, he (the teenager) would have received an immediate custodial sentence, measured in years, not months and his life would have been ruined."

Basingstoke Gazette:

Prosecutor Simon Jones told the court that Dowson started sending sexual messages to the teenager, who was doing some part-time work at the same Chinese restaurant where she and her husband were both employed in May 2014.

She had sex with the teenager in a wooded area after they went out with the other staff from the restaurant to celebrate his 18th birthday and met up for another tryst in a field the next day, the judge was told.

"A few weeks after this, Mrs Dowson contacted the teenager to say she was pregnant and it was his baby. The teenager was not happy about that and he made no secret of the fact that he wanted Mrs Dowson to have a termination," said Mr Jones.

"Not long after Mrs Dowson again contacted the teenager to say she was in a hotel room and was having a miscarriage. The teenager was on a night out at the time and did not see those messages. Mrs Dowson took that as him ignoring her and refusing to be with her while she was in so much distress."

The prosecutor went on: "In September 2015, Mrs Dowson told the teenager she was not coping with the loss of the pregnancy and she wanted to have another baby. Mrs Dowson harassed him and started to emotionally blackmail him. She told him he had treated her badly in relation to the pregnancy and miscarriage and threatened to tell his parents about this."

However, the prosecutor said police had discovered messages between Dowson and her husband which suggested she had not been pregnant at all.

Despite that, Dowson sent her victim many messages over 100 days, at a rate of four messages per day, until she threatened suicide if he did not impregnate her, at which point he relented and they had sex four or five more times, the prosecution said.

Basingstoke Gazette:

By February 28 2016, when Dowson was not yet pregnant, the victim said he no longer wanted to have sex with her, to which Dowson had replied: "You are taking my baby away from me".

She added: "I lied anyway, I thought it would make you feel better about yourself and what I thought you were going through."

Around the same time, Dowson had sent a text to her husband which read: "I want another baby. Not even drunk, I actually do."

Dowson became pregnant and gave birth to a boy on November 2016, but she was supported through her full-term by the mother of the teenager, who thought the child was her grandson.

The boy's mother had received fake scan images from Dowson which the prosecution said had been purchased from a retailer on eBay, which allowed purchasers to add customised details such as the date of the scan, the mother's name and details which would be consistent with how far along the person would be.

Basingstoke Gazette:

The prosecutor said: "The only common sense conclusion for Mrs Dowson buying fake scan images was that she simply did not have any real scan images because she was not pregnant.

"On December 17 2016, she was to raise the issue of child maintenance payments from the teenager. The teenager and his parents accepted he would be required to do this. They asked for a paternity test. It was made clear this would need to be done in a way that was court approved. Mrs Dowson refused to have the child taken to a sample taken."

Dowson had offered instead to have a "peace of mind" test carried out with AlphaBiolabs and started asking for her victim to send her a DNA sample, at which point the victim contacted the police.

It later emerged Dowson had sent a doctored image, a DNA test result she had changed to make it say the teenager was the father of her child, to the child maintenance service to try and fraudulently obtain payments from him.

Basingstoke Gazette:

The teenager's mother told the court: "Sarah was pregnant, as far as I knew she was no longer with her husband. At various points along the way I had doubts but they always seemed to be answered.

"I felt that despite the awful way it all came about, the baby was innocent in it and I felt it was important to be part of my grandson's life. I tried to maintain a relationship with Sarah. All of that effort and stress was for nothing."

Police had called Dowson in for a voluntary interview in respect of harassment at Basingstoke police station on February 23 2017, the judge heard.

Mr Jones said: "The next morning, she emailed Hampshire Constabulary and alleged the teenager raped her two years ago. On April 19 2017, Mrs Dowson took part in a video recorded interview during which she alleged she had been vaginally and orally raped. She said the teenager was forceful, she said no but gave in, she said."

Following the allegation, the teenager was arrested and kept in police custody for 10 and a half hours for questioning. He was further interviewed under caution four times when Dowson later alleged he had been harassing her.

The court heard how Dowson had claimed to receive emails, Facebook messages and Snapchat messages from the teenager and his girlfriend, where they admitted the alleged rape and threatened to kill her, although the defendant had actually fabricated those messages.

Thomas Dowson had assisted his wife by claiming he had seen the teenager and his girlfriend outside their home and lied to the police about the couple harassing his wife.

Police had arrested Sarah Dowson after she managed to obtain an emergency non-molestation order against the teenager from a family court by repeating the rape lies and Dowson also contacted her victim's workplace and his girlfriend's work to accuse the teenager of rape.

Summarising the prosecution case, Mr Jones said: "This has been a deliberate, malicious vendetta against the teenager. It is submitted this amounted to a campaign of harassment in the most serious form, causing an impact upon the teenager, who has felt that the false accusations, harassment and bullying has taken its toll on him, leaving him upset, frustrated and angry."

A lawyer defending Thomas Dowson, who was spared jail, said he had truly believed the allegations made by his wife, who he had known since secondary school, about sexual assault were true and he wanted to support her.

Ronan McCann, defending, said: "He recounted first becoming aware of a distance that did not exist previously in about 2016, an experience completely unknown to him in the history of his day of the relationship.

"When these allegations began to surface, that missing piece of the puzzle became present, an explanation as to how this person around him has completely collapsed, deteriorated or perhaps diminished in the way that she has."

Sarah Dowson, appearing from HMP Bronzefield via videolink, was jailed for three and a half years.

Thomas Dowson was ordered to complete 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days as well as being made subject to a restraining order.

  • For free confidental support, contact the Samaritans on 116 123