A woman has been given a conditional discharge after she admitted wasting more than 200 hours of police time by making a false allegation of kidnap and rape.

Marissa Louise Cheeseman, 37, of Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent, claimed to have been abducted by two men as she walked along the street in Whitby.

Cheeseman was attending Whitby Folk Festival at the time of the alleged offences in August 2017, and claimed she had been asked for directions by a man driving a van, who then forced her into the back of the van alongside another man.

She claimed she was then driven to Middlesbrough and left there after being repeatedly raped by both men.

On receiving the report, Scarborough Serious Crime Team immediately launched a major investigation. 25 officers from various departments, including some called in from their rest days due to demand at the time, and officers from Cleveland Major Incident Team, worked on the inquiry.

After four days of extensive enquiries and over 208 hours of police time, officers were satisfied that the allegations were untrue. Cheeseman was arrested and subsequently charged with the offence of Causing Wasteful Employment of Police.

She pleaded guilty to the offence on 19 March 2018, and was sentenced on 6 June 2018 at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court, where she was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a surcharge of £20.

Detective Inspector Glenn Kelly of Scarborough Serious Crime Team, said: “The time and resources dedicated to this extremely serious allegation reflected the gravitas with which we regard all such reports. It is very frustrating for everyone involved in such an intensive investigation to find that the report was made up. Particularly when there are genuine victims of crime who need our help.

“Proceeding with such prosecutions is not taken lightly and only when it is in the public interest to do so will it be considered. In this instance, there was a considerable diversion of policing resources and cost to the public purse, which had this been a genuine report, would have been the absolute right thing to do, but it was not genuine. The figure of 208 hours has been quantified, however, it is likely to be much higher given the resources allocated to the investigation.

“We may never know what motivated Cheeseman to make such claims, but what is of concern is that false reports undermine genuine victims of serious sexual crime.

“It is vital that victims are not affected by false reporting and that they are reassured that when they do report such horrendous crimes to the police, they will be treated as an absolute priority, with urgency, sensitivity and confidentiality.”

If you have been a victim of sexual crime, no matter when it happened, please report it to the police on 101.

If you prefer not to speak to the police, you can contact Bridge House, North Yorkshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) on 0330 223 0362 or visit www.bridgshousesarc.org If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

You can also call: • Childline 24-hour helpline 0800 1111 • NSPCC’s online safety helpline on 0800 800 5002 If you are worried about a child, call the NSPCC’s helpline: 0800 800 5000