Crowdfunder for British teenager facing prison in Cyprus over rape claim reaches new target

Will Taylor
News Reporter
The British teenager, face covered, a leaves the Famagusta District Court in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus. (Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP) (Photo by IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images)

A crowdfunder which is raising money to help a British teenager who faces a year-long prison sentence in Cyprus has reached its new target in just one day.

The 19-year-old was found guilty of public mischief after she retracted her claim that she had been raped by up to 12 Israeli tourists in Ayia Napa in July.

Her lawyers have argued she may have withdrawn the claim because she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The woman, who was set to start university in September, has claimed she was “forced” to retract her statement after being interrogated by police for hours without a lawyer.

Her mother says they plan to appeal the case and the British government says it is “seriously concerned about the fair trial guarantees in this deeply distressing case”.

The teenager arrives at court covering her face. (Photo by Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP) (Photo by IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images)

Now, a GoFundMe page set up by British lawyer John Hobbs in August to pay for the woman’s legal representation has hit its target of £105,000 - having reached £80,000 yesterday.

The target was increased today to keep the case going.

“Thank you all for your kindness, wishes of hope, and support in making this fight against injustice possible,” Mr Hobbs wrote on the page today.

“Notwithstanding the very welcome high level interventions in our daughter’s fight for justice, we need to be resourced to run an appeal to the Cypriot Supreme Court.

“Initial calculations suggest this may cost a further £25k, plus QC and expenses, so we have raised the target commensurately.

“If our luck changes and we can avoid the appeal then any surplus will be applied to charities and causes with similar intentions.”

The woman faces up to a year in jail and a 1,700 euro (£1,500) fine.

She has received support at home and protesters have demonstrated for her outside the court in Cyprus.

Women's rights activists stage a protest in support of a British teenager accused of falsely claiming she was raped by Israeli tourists. (Photo by Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP) (Photo by IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images)

Her mother has told the BBC’s Today programme she backs a tourism boycott of the country.

She has also criticised Ayia Napa, a popular party town on Cyprus’s east coast.

“It isn’t safe – it is absolutely not safe. And if you go and report something that’s happened to you, you’re either laughed at, as far as I can tell, or, in the worst case, something like what’s happened to my daughter may happen,” she said.

She said her daughter continues to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hallucinations, and a condition called hypersomnia, which can make her sleep for up to 20 hours a day.

“She needs to get back to the UK to get that treated – that’s my absolute primary focus. She can’t be treated here because hearing foreign men speaking loudly will trigger an episode…

“It needs resolving otherwise she’s going to carry on having this for the rest of her life,” the mother said.