A policewoman lied to an alleged rape victim by telling her that prosecution lawyers were unwilling to pursue her case.

PC Hannah Notley told the alleged victim, as well as her superiors, that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had decided not to pursue her allegation of sexual assault, even though she had never passed the file to them in the first place.

The Essex Police sex assault specialist later tried to fob off the alleged victim by telling her the CPS had dropped the case because she had reported it too late.

A defence lawyer said the police officer was undergoing some sort of emotional breakdown at the time which led to her behaving as she did.

When the alleged victim was told her rape was not being looked into, she tried to take her own life.

Notley was jailed for four months on Friday at Southwark Crown Court, in London.

She had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct in public office between July 6 2011 and April 21 2012.

The 30-year-old, from Benfleet in Essex, wept throughout the sentencing hearing and broke down as she was sentenced, saying "I love you" to family members in the public gallery as she was led away.

Prosecutor Zoe Martin told the court that after Notley was assigned to the case in July 2011, the alleged perpetrator was arrested and interviewed, and his mobile phone and computer examined.

But when Notley was later asked what had happened in the case, she told a superior the CPS had decided not to pursue it.

When it was then logged on the police system as having "no further action", Notley failed to put superiors straight and even told the alleged victim herself that CPS lawyers had decided to drop the case, despite knowing it had never been passed to them.

In February last year, Notley spoke to the complainant, telling her that the CPS had dropped the case because she had reported it too late so there was no physical evidence.

Miss Martin said: "She (the complainant) was clearly upset because it implied that the NFA (no further action) decision to some extent was her fault for reporting the rape late in the day.

"The alleged victim states that on the evening that she was telephoned by Ms Notley to say that there was no further action, she tried to take her own life."

The matter only came to light after an independent adviser allocated to the complainant pursued the matter and it transpired that the CPS had never been sent the file.

The rape allegation was reinvestigated, the court heard, and the alleged perpetrator has now been charged. He is due to stand trial in May.

The court heard the woman had been left devastated by the revelation that Notley lied and it had ruined her trust in the police.

The explanation given to the court was that Notley had been suffering from difficulties in her personal life - she had split from her fiance just weeks before their wedding, and she had later suffered a miscarriage which coincided with her sister falling pregnant.

In mitigation, Allan Compton, on behalf of Notley, told the court she had been "beset with guilt" over her lie, but had not gained from it.

He said she had been deeply depressed at the time and had suffered some form of emotional breakdown, but it was never her intention to "bury this investigation completely".

Notley later lost her job with the force, the court heard.

An Essex Police spokesman said today: "We await the full detailed report of the IPCC investigation and will deal with any recommendations which are made."

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