Published: 17:57
Monday 30 April 2007


THE mother of a teenage boy wrongly accused of rape at knifepoint and locked up for more than two months has spoken of the family’s trauma.

Andrew Bennett (18), of Herbert Drive, Methwold, was remanded in custody at Norwich Young Offenders’ Institute with convicted criminals, and spent Christmas and New Year there, before eventually getting bail on January 5.

But even then he could not go home as strict conditions of the court meant he had to stay out of Norfolk and live in a Peterborough bail hostel.

Proceedings against him were finally dismissed on March 30 after several reviews of his case by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mum Judy Webb told the Lynn News the 72 days her son spent behind locked doors had been a "traumatic" experience for him and the family were investigating whether he could claim for wrongful custody.

She said: "It was every mother’s nightmare and a traumatic time to deal with but we have pulled together as a family and, with support from the solicitor, have got through it.

"But we feel aggrieved at the unfairness of having our names as parents and his name dragged through the mud and knowing there’s nothing we can do about it." Mrs Webb said her son was now trying to get his life back together with the support of the local community.

Methwold was stunned on October 26 last year when Mr Bennett was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl at knifepoint and brought before magistrates in custody.


Despite denying the offence and his previous good character, he had five applications for bail turned down before a Crown Court judge eventually granted him bail.

Solicitor Alison Muir, head of the criminal department at Metcalfe, Copeman and Pettefar in Lynn, said Mr Bennett and his family and friends were horrified when details of the allegation appeared in the press because they knew he was innocent.

"The law however, while allowing the alleged perpetrator of an offence to have their details published, gives full protection to alleged victims," she said.

Miss Muir said even though the allegations were false the complainant could not be named and it was unlikely that the police would take any action against her.

She pointed out: "Andrew’s is not the only case where I have encountered alleged victims making false allegations of a serious sexual nature. I am only thankful that the prosecuting authorities eventually took our representations seriously.

"It does not detract from the fact however that Andrew spent several months remanded in custody on the word of someone whose credibility was seriously in issue.

"It also means that genuine victims of rape may have reservations about contacting the police and juries may be less inclined to believe them because of the rise in the number of false allegations."

Yesterday, Norfolk chief Crown prosecutor Mr Peter Tidey said: "Cases are always kept under review and this case was reviewed in the light of an earlier trial that this complainant was a witness in. It was in the light of the decision in that case that the decision was then made about the prospects of a conviction in this case."