Woman sobs in court as she’s told she is being jailed for false sex assault allegation

Judges in the Court of Appeal imposed a one-year custodial term

A woman sobbed in court on Tuesday as she was told she would be going to jail for making a false allegation of sexual assault.

Denise Cribbin (45), of Stepaside, Co Wicklow, was given a two-year wholly suspended sentence after she pleaded guilty to making a false statement contrary to Section 12(a) of the Criminal Law Act 1976.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later appealed the sentence handed down by Judge Patrick Quinn at Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court on the grounds it was unduly lenient.

In a judgement delivered at the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy and Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, agreed with the DPP and quashed the original sentence, imposing a one-year custodial term in its place.

As Cribbin sat weeping in the dock with her head in her hands, Mr Justice Birmingham said the offence had “crossed the threshold” and “custody was inevitable and cannot be avoided”.

Cribbin will now present herself to gardai at Stepaside Garda station before 5pm this Friday, when she will be taken into custody to begin her sentence.

In the judgment, Mr Justice Birmingham described how the offence had arisen out of events surrounding a single-car crash which took place during the early hours of July 12th, 2016, on the outskirts of the Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.

Both Cribbin and the injured party were occupants of the car, which belonged to her and which she had been driving.

Injured party

It was claimed the following evening at a meeting between the injured party and Cribbin, which was also attended by a friend of Cribbin’s and Cribbin’s mother, that he had sexually assaulted Cribbin prior to the accident, and this had caused the car to crash.

Nine months later, in April 2017, Cribbin complained to gardaí that the injured party had sexually assaulted her on the night in question and provided a statement.

“There were interviews with a number of witnesses, and these contradicted the respondent’s statement. It became apparent to gardaí that the statement had been false,” Mr Justice Birmingham noted.

In August 2018, the respondent was arrested and interviewed in relation to the making of a false statement.

“At that point, she furnished a prepared statement, standing by the original complaint and refuting any suggestion that the allegation was false,” the judge added.

However, the sexual assault investigation into the injured party concluded when investigating garda received a direction from the DPP that no prosecution was to be pursued.

Cribbin pleaded guilty in July 2020 to making a false statement.