A British teenager convicted of lying about being gang-raped in Cyprus has said she had nightmares about “being raped again” every night while in prison.
The 19-year-old, who was remanded in jail for more than a month after being charged last July, says she lost 16kg (2st 7lb) and was given Xanax by prison doctors, which made her hallucinate during her ordeal.
Earlier this month the woman, who maintains that she was raped by up to 12 men in a hotel room in Ayia Napa last July, was handed a four-month suspended sentence after being convicted of public mischief by a Cypriot court.
In her first full interview since returning to the UK, she told the Sun: “Most prisoners were drugged. It seemed they thought that was easier. It gave me horribly vivid dreams, hallucinations.”
She added that while sharing a cell with eight other women at Nicosia prison, she “didn’t eat much at all” and became severely thin while suffering from PTSD.
In extracts from a prison diary, she wrote: “I have nightmares every night, I dream I’m being raped again.
“The doctors prescribe me drugs, I take them in the morning, at lunch and finally at night.”
Lawyers representing the woman, from Derbyshire, submitted grounds for appeal against her conviction to the supreme court of Cyprus more than a week ago.
The guilty verdict hinged on a written confession in which the teenager had withdrawn the complaint but which her defence team argued was extracted under duress, in the absence of a lawyer or translator, after eight hours of police questioning.
During the newspaper interview, in which the woman described crawling “like a crab across a floor” to escape, she added she had felt “mixed emotions” upon returning home on 7 January.
“We’ve reached this milestone of getting back to the UK so I can begin to feel safe again but then we’ve got this whole other aspect which is just so much bigger, that the case isn’t finished,” she said.
She added that it was “horrendous” that she still had to live with her conviction, saying that “it definitely feels like I’m still fighting”.
Ahead of her trial, the teenager was released on bail following four and a half weeks in prison after her family raised €20,000 to secure her freedom. More than £153,000 has since been raised through crowdfunding to pay for her legal representation.
The teenager, who had been in Cyprus on a working holiday, had been due to take up a place on a criminology course at a British university last September.
However, she is now undergoing treatment for PTSD by a consultant psychologist, and is yet to return to education.
She said: “I’m getting to know my friends again. We’ve been out and I’m thinking about my future. I’d like to go back to college maybe but I just need time to breathe.
“The most I can manage is going to the gym with friends and spending time with my collie Kai. I can’t think further ahead than that yet.”