A Lake Illawarra woman’s false claim that she was the victim of multiple sexual assaults wasted thousands of dollars of policing resources, a court has heard.
Michelle Lovell, 37, spun a web of lies about the supposed abuse for more than a year, initially making the claim to a close friend via the internet in May 2013.
Once the friend accepted the story, Lovell continued with the charade, bolstering her account of the abuse with further lies, including claims she had been admitted to hospital as a result of some of the assaults.
The female friend was so concerned for Lovell she reported the matter to police. However, after officers made contact with Lovell several times over a number of weeks, she eventually confessed that it was a lie.
Lovell pleaded guilty in Port Kembla Local Court on Wednesday to a charge of falsely representing to police an act that required investigating, with a police statement tendered during the court proceedings revealing Lovell’s deceit had cost police more than $1200 in investigation costs.
That cost excluded the price of ‘‘man hours’’, the statement said.
The court heard Lovell’s friend had gotten in touch with her last May after growing concerned over comments she had posted on her Facebook account.
The pair continued to communicate regularly, with Lovell eventually telling the woman she was being sexually assaulted by ‘‘four men’’.
Lovell went on to tell the woman that she had been in hospital at times due to the severity of the abuse, and on one occasion claimed a recent assault had caused her to miscarry.
The friend later told police that Lovell had disclosed to her the names of her alleged abusers in July last year. She also told her she had taken out an apprehended violence order against one of the men around the same time, however she was going to withdraw it because he’d threatened her, the friend said.
The later police investigation dispelled both the AVO and the hospital claims.
The friend reported Lovell’s alleged abuse to police in November last year, providing a nine-page statement as well as copies of Facebook conversations and text messages between the pair.
Police paid a visit to Lovell’s home in February this year, however she said she didn’t want to be involved in any investigation.
She had the same response when police visited her again on March 4.
However, in a bizarre turn of events, the following day officers received an email from Lovell saying ‘‘none of the incidents that [the friend] has put in her report actually happened. It’s not true. I’m truly so so sorry for any hassles I have caused.’’
After further investigations, officers discovered Lovell had bombarded her friend with text messages and phone calls from private numbers and pay phones at the time of making the false claims, including sending messages purporting to be from Lovell’s abusers detailing what they planned to do to her.
The police statement said apart from the financial cost of the investigation, the matter had taken an emotional toll on police and the female friend.
Lovell was arrested on June 19.
On Wednesday she pleaded guilty to a further three charges of using a carriage service to harass, relating to the phone calls and text messages.
She will be sentenced on August 27.