As she made her daily commute from her home in a sleepy Derbyshire village, a mother received a phone call from her daughter in Cyprus.
‘Mum, I’ve been gang-raped,’ her only child told her.
From the harrowing moment she heard the words, spoken softly by the teenager, the conscientious, middle-class mother has seen the life she built for her ‘golden little girl’ torn apart.
The Briton (right) leaves court after being found guilty of lying – her mask with lips sewn up signifies the fact that her voice is being silenced. Her mother says she cannot ‘visualise going home’ as the trial has been ‘so unpredictable’
‘It’s the call nobody wants to receive. It was just devastating,’ the mother told the Daily Mail yesterday.
The woman – who remains anonymous to protect her daughter’s identity – has spoken of the anguish of the past five months as she fought to restore a normal family life.
Not only has she been faced with the ‘hopelessness’ of trying to defend her daughter in the island’s unfamiliar court system – but also on the streets.
The student has been stranded since July after being accused of making up claims that she was raped by a group of Israeli youths in Ayia Napa.
Some of the Israeli men who were initially accused of rape are seen arriving in court on July 25. The woman’s family say police protected them and treated her as a criminal from the start
And tomorrow, her mother will sit in the public gallery of the tiny Famagusta District Court to see if her daughter will be jailed over charges of ‘causing public mischief’. The world’s media will be watching – as will Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has said he has ‘serious concerns’ about the teenager’s treatment.
The woman flew to Cyprus after her daughter’s phone call on Wednesday, July 17, but it was ten days later that the teenager’s fate went from tragic to unjust.
Pictured: A diagram illustrating bruising found on the teenager
She was asked to go to the police station for a chat with Detective Sergeants Marius Christou and Andreas Nikolettis. She told her mother it was just a routine chat and she would be back in time for dinner.
But instead she was thrown into a police cell, scared and alone. She was then interrogated for eight hours – until she signed a retraction statement saying she made up the rape claims because she was embarrassed she had been filmed without her consent.
The mother suddenly found herself alone and facing the worst possible scenario in a foreign country – she now had to somehow negotiate the language barrier and chaotic court system to find a way to help her child.
The bedroom where the teenager claimed the attack had taken place
The room of the Aiya Napa hotel room where the teenager claimed she had been attacked
‘I was in shock at what had happened already. I was still dealing with the emotional impact of that,’ she said.
‘I had to deal with my daughter being raped and we were scared witless that she might have HIV. Then all of a sudden she is in prison.
Justice has been served, says boy’s father
The father of one of the Israeli youths accused of gang-raping the teenager says he is glad she has been convicted.
The man, whose 17-year-old son was arrested in Ayia Napa in July, expressed no sympathy for the young woman, who was left with extensive bruising and suffers from PTSD.
The man, who lives in Jerusalem, said: ‘I’m very happy. Justice has been served. We knew from the beginning that the girl was not speaking the truth but we were just waiting for justice to be served.’
The teenager’s uncle added that he wanted the 19-year-old woman to face the full force of the law. ‘Even if it was my own father, I would want them to face the full strength of law and for justice to be served,’ he said. ‘Whoever does the crime should be punished in whatever way the law decides.’
He said his nephew had no sympathy for the teenager.
‘That whole series of events… those three things individually for an ordinary person are life-changing, you don’t get all three of them. Hopefully you don’t get any of them.’
And it was not only in the courts that she was forced to prove the innocence of her ‘bubbly, beautiful girl’.
The case had become the primary topic of conversation on the island and everyone – assuming the mother was just another British tourist on holiday – wanted to know what she thought about the girl who cried rape.
For the sake of her daughter’s safety and anonymity, she would have to answer as a tourist – completely disconnected from the events.
‘It happened a lot in the summer months, as soon as they realise you are British they want to know what you think. I was having to defend my daughter incognito,’ she said.
‘I always say, “if that was your daughter, how would you feel”?’
While the mother was trying to come to terms with the dire situation, pictures were emerging of the Israeli boys, now exonerated, returning home to a heroes’ welcome – popping champagne corks and chanting ‘the Brit is a whore’.
Asked how she felt seeing those celebrations as her daughter was put in a foreign jail, the mother paused for a long time and fought back tears.
‘I felt utter disbelief. I think that’s because the parents of those boys were involved as well. I was just devastated. I felt completely heartbroken for my daughter.
‘She has never been in trouble before. She is my golden girl.’
The teenager was remanded in custody for more than a month. She spent her 19th birthday in jail, and received her exam results by phone.
‘She did well (in her results), I was proud, but it is hard to be happy when you are in that kind of situation,’ her mother said.
The trial was expected to last just three days, but has dragged on for months.
‘We had no way to plan the logistics of it all,’ the mother said. ‘We sort of gave up trying. It has been like that from the beginning. We cannot visualise going home because we have struggled with the decision-making all the way through. It has been so unpredictable.’
She also watched helplessly as district judge Michalis Papathanasiou directed several outbursts at her daughter.
The statement is the crux of a case that has sparked a diplomatic incident, with the teenager dragged to court and convicted of lying
If the teenager even glanced back at her mother for reassurance during the stop-start trial, he would shout angrily at her to ‘show him respect’. Torn between wanting to stand up and defend her or simply give her a hug, the woman said: ‘I had to separate myself from it, I think I told myself that it wasn’t real. I would have been sobbing otherwise. It was horrific. Seriously horrific.’
She is deeply worried for the mental health of her daughter, who is suffering from PTSD and vacillating between hypersomnia – in which sufferers struggle to keep awake during the day – and insomnia. After she was convicted last Monday, the teenager suffered a panic attack – often triggered by men shouting in a foreign language – outside court after hearing a policeman yelling.
She froze before grabbing her mother’s arm and saying: ‘I’m so sorry, I can’t help acting like this. It will be all right in a minute.’
A petition has been launched to have all charges dropped against the teenager dropped following her conviction
Her mother said: ‘It’s very physical, she will become incredibly anxious and try to get away.
‘Her body sort of takes over and she can’t always rationalise what is going on. It can be paralysing. She seizes up.’ She said her over-riding priority was to get her daughter home and treated.
‘I’m very worried about it. She has to get treatment for it or she will be affected by it for the rest of her life.
An online fundraiser entitled ‘Help Teen Victim Get Justice In Cyprus’ has raised more than £114,000 towards the family’s legal fees so far
‘So much harm has already been done, we need to minimise that as much as possible.
‘She was very confident, very intelligent, and it’s really affected her self-confidence.’
The mother had no qualms when her confident and intelligent daughter – then just 18 – said she wanted to go to Ayia Napa for a working holiday before she took up an unconditional offer at university.
Cyprus trial judge Michalis Papathanasiou
The woman had thought it was safe – and had previously visited the island herself.
‘To me it was just another party destination at another resort that attracts young people looking for sun and a good time,’ she said.
The softly-spoken project manager from Derbyshire could never have known the anguish that was to follow after her daughter set off on Wednesday, July 10.
‘If I had known then what I know now I would have done anything in my power to stop her coming here,’ she said.
She has since backed calls to boycott the ‘unsafe’ island, adding: ‘It could happen to anyone’s daughter, niece, mother or sister.’