A young Sydney woman on holiday in Thailand has been jailed for 15 days after admitting she made up a story that she was raped by a taxi driver.
Stevie Rochelle Bamford, 21, from the eastern suburbs, had told police she took a tuktuk taxi home after arguing with her boyfriend while on a late night out in Soi Bangla, Phuket's red light district, on Saturday, June 9.
On the way to the resort where she and her boyfriend were staying, she claimed, the driver picked up two friends and drove her to a secluded spot where the two ''accomplices'' held her down while the driver raped her. She said she eventually managed to break free and run away.
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But after investigating the woman's claims for almost a week, police discovered CCTV footage showing her going back to her hotel on the back of a motorbike taxi, not in a tuktuk. When shown the footage on Thursday night, police say Bamford admitted making up the story because she was afraid her boyfriend would be angry about her staying out late.
Bamford was charged with making a false statement to police and appeared in the Phuket Provincial Court on Friday where she was sentenced to 15 days in the Bang Jo detention centre. Once she has served her time, she will be deported.
Two senior officials from the Australian embassy in Bangkok flew to Phuket on Friday to be with her in court. A senior police officer involved in the case said the woman's boyfriend, also 21, was ''extremely angry'' when the truth emerged and he realised he, too, had been misled.
''This sort of thing could damage Phuket's tourism industry,'' the officer said.